Some Facts about Medical Malpractice in the United States
Medical malpractice is when a medical or healthcare professional breaches its duty of care to a patient which leads to injury or death. The purpose of medical malpractice litigation is to protect the rights of the patient, to keep healthcare professionals on their toes when it comes to patient care, and to hold negligent practitioners accountable for their actions.
There are many types of medical malpractice cases. The most common basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit in 2012 was related to diagnosis (33%) followed by surgical errors (24%) and related to treatment (18%). The states with the most number of medical malpractice cases were New York, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, and Florida.
Many people believe that medical malpractice is a good way to make lots of money when a doctor has a bad day at the office, and indeed in 2012 the medical malpractice payout nationwide totaled $3.6 billion. A majority of this (93%) was as a result of a settlement rather than a court judgment (5%), and more than 30% was as compensation for a death. In New Jersey, a little over $206 million was paid out in medical malpractice claims.
However, medical malpractice cases are notoriously difficult to win at trial, which is usually before a jury, and they take twice as long as other personal injury cases (about 5 days versus 2 days). This is because medical malpractice cases are often highly technical and complex, according to the website of Pohl and Berk. It is estimated that in general, plaintiffs win in less than one-fourth of all medical malpractice cases (23% in 2005), although the payouts in case of a win are significantly larger compared to other types of personal injury cases for the plaintiff (59% in 2005). Medical malpractice cases have high risk associated with them, as a loss can be incredibly costly.
If you are considering suing a healthcare professional or hospital for medical malpractice, make sure that you engage the services of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to increase the chances of success. Check on the lawyer’s reputation and track record, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your lawyer should be prepared to answer your questions and help you gather all the evidence you need to boost your chances of having a successful case.