What Is a Typical Medical Malpractice Injury Settlement Amount?
What Is a Typical Medical Malpractice Injury Settlement Amount?
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What Is a Typical Medical Malpractice Injury Settlement Amount?
Medical malpractice cases are some of the most complex personal injury cases you'll ever come across. Part of the reason for this is that the typical medical malpractice injury settlement amounts to thousands of dollars, sometimes even millions. The average medical malpractice settlement amount in the United States is $200,000.
It was much easier to win medical malpractice claims years ago than it is now. This is because of the introduction of certain policies that have changed how medical malpractice cases are adjudicated. For example, many patients are now more aware of their rights.
There has also been an increase in the number of medical malpractice claims filed over the past few years. As a result, most insurance companies have increased their premiums for healthcare providers to cover the risk of medical malpractice lawsuits. And as expected, many healthcare providers have raised concerns over the increased premiums, prompting various states to introduce policies that make it much more difficult to prove medical malpractice.
How to Determine the Value of a Medical Malpractice Case
No amount of settlement is perfect for a medical malpractice case. This is because it's impossible to replace lost time or physical capacity with money. But that said, it's also important to ensure that the compensation awarded to the victims of medical malpractice is fair enough.
It is fair in the sense that it can help them cope with the financial challenges that derive from their new medical condition. For instance, if they cannot seek employment due to a disability caused by medical malpractice, this compensation should help cover the costs of living without employment.
The following factors come into play when calculating the value of a medical malpractice claim,
The victim may seek compensation for medical bills arising from the injury. This may include current and future medical expenses. However, to receive compensation for such expenses, the plaintiff must prove their validity in the form of medical statements and receipts. The same also applies to future medical bills - the plaintiff will need an official medical report explaining the kind of medical treatment they'll need in the future due to the medical malpractice.
This further explains the importance of keeping medical records after the injury. It will be much more difficult to convince the jury or the defense that you need compensation for medical expenses without such records.
Cost of Care
Some injuries require short-term or long-term care. Either way, you deserve to be compensated for any care you'll need as a result of the injury. Whether you'll need a caregiver or an in-home nurse, you deserve compensation.
Remember, you must also prove that you'll need specialized care if it's part of your claim. However, in most cases, a doctor's statement may be all you need to prove that you need the services of a caregiver, nurse, or any other professional to help you recover from or manage the effects of the injury.
Cost of Accommodation
Some injuries can completely change the victim's life. For example, some victims may need a wheelchair temporarily or permanently. For this reason, the costs of accommodating the new changes should be covered by the defendant if found guilty of the injury. This may include expenses such as setting up a wheelchair ramp outside the house, bathroom handles for extra support, and so on.
Cost of Medical Equipment
If the victims need any special equipment to help them recover from or manage the effects of the injury, this cost may be included in the medical malpractice claim. Examples of such equipment include wheelchairs, special beds, and Hoyer lifts.
The above costs are usually referred to as economic damages. However, the jury can also award the plaintiff non-economic damages such as:
Pain and Suffering
Compensation for pain and suffering covers any mental or physical pain suffered due to the injury. The multiplier method is the most common technique to calculate pain and suffering.
When using this method, the plaintiff adds all 'special damages' and multiplies the result by a number, usually between 1.5 and 5. The higher the multiplier, the more severe the pain and suffering. However, the multiplier method is not generally considered accurate -different attorneys can find conflicting results when calculating pain and suffering.
Loss of Relationships
The plaintiff can also be awarded compensation for losing relationships with their families. For example, they may be entitled to compensation if they can no longer take their kids for soccer practice due to the injury or hang out with their friends after work for Monday night football.
The spouse of the injured individual can also file a standalone loss of consortium claim. This claim alleges that the spouse and the injured individual can no longer participate in certain activities together, such as romantic relations, due to the injury.
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How Medical Malpractice Settlements Are Issued
As discussed below, medical malpractice settlements are usually issued in two main ways.
These payments are reserved for minors or victims of birth-related injuries. The defendant is required to set up a fund to ensure the injured party has access to long-term medical treatment. This kind of payment gives the victim a sense of financial security in the long run, especially if they cannot work due to the injury.
The lump-sum payment system involves setting up funds to settle the victim's past, current, and future medical expenses. Most lawyers and their clients prefer this option because it is less complicated than the structured payment system.
Common Challenges Facing Medical Malpractice Claims
As mentioned earlier, medical malpractice cases are some of the most difficult to prove. Here's why.
The Burden of Proof
In most medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof. For this reason, they must prove that all elements of their claim are true.
The existence of a patient-doctor relationship: You cannot sue a doctor or any other healthcare provider just because you had a consultation with them. This explains why many healthcare providers have disclaimers stating that a consultation does not amount to a relationship with the client. However, if a doctor or any other healthcare provider agrees to take you as a client, a relationship between the two parties can be established. This is usually done by providing medical records as evidence.
The healthcare provider acted negligently: Negligence is usually one of the most difficult elements to prove in a medical malpractice claim. To prove this element, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the healthcare provider harmed them in a situation where a competent healthcare provider would not. Unfortunately, proving that the doctor didn't exercise their standard of care may not be enough to hold them responsible for medical malpractice.
This is because the term 'standard of care' is broad and varies from one situation to another. For example, the jury mostly considers the treatment procedure for that particular condition rather than the end result when determining negligence.
So if any part of your body becomes paralyzed, either permanently or temporarily, after a medical procedure, it may not be enough to prove negligence. Instead, the jury will determine whether the healthcare provider followed the appropriate steps required for that specific procedure regardless of the results. This basically means that healthcare providers are only responsible for how they provide treatment and not how their clients respond to the treatment.
Negligence caused the injury: The plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider's negligence was the direct cause of the injury. This is usually one of the most difficult elements to prove in a medical malpractice case. As a result, some plaintiffs hire experts to provide their professional opinion and directly link the injury to the healthcare provider's negligence.
Proof of damages: The plaintiff must also demonstrate a direct connection between the damages suffered and the injury. For example, if they lost their earning capacity, they must demonstrate that the loss was due to the injury and nothing else.
Medical Malpractice Damage Caps
Some states have caps or limits on the amount the plaintiff may recover from a medical malpractice claim. By 2016, at least 33 US states had medical malpractice damage caps. These caps usually range between $250,000 to $2.5 million.
Proving the Difference Between Undesired Outcomes and Malpractice
Healthcare providers are protected by law even though some providers act negligently or fail to act when required. Most states require the plaintiff to prove that negligence is the primary reason for their claim and not an undesired result.
A good example is the case of a failed cosmetic surgery - the doctor is only responsible for exercising their standard of care. However, if you don't like the cosmetic surgery results, you may not be able to sue the doctor unless you can prove that they acted negligently. You can do this by demonstrating that any other doctor in such a capacity or working under similar conditions would have done a better job by following correct procedures.
Securing Expert Witnesses
Having an expert witness can significantly increase your chances of winning a medical malpractice claim. However, it's important to note that an expert witness is not an attorney - this individual only provides their professional opinion regarding the malpractice, helping the plaintiff prove negligence. This process usually involves a lot of research, resources, and experience.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice varies from state to state. This further explains the importance of filing a claim right away to avoid being barred by the statute of limitations. Filing a claim doesn't mean accepting settlement - it notifies the defendant about the case brought against them.
Due to the complex nature of medical malpractice claims, such cases usually take years to settle. As a result, some malpractice victims tend to give up along the way, while others opt to settle for way less than what they're entitled to.
The Resource Factor
Unlike most personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases require a lot of resources. The plaintiff must conduct thorough investigations, interview witnesses, hire experts, gather medical records, and so on. All these processes usually require a lot of resources that most standard law firms or lawyers don't have access to. Sadly, it's possible to lose a case not because it's not valid but because the plaintiff lacked the resources required to tackle such a case.
How Morgan & Morgan Can Help
By now, you probably understand how complex medical malpractice cases are, let alone the settlement process. For this reason, you need an attorney or law firm with more than enough legal resources to navigate the complex and frustrating process of proving negligence. The resources aside, you also need an attorney with years of experience handling such cases.
Morgan & Morgan is the perfect example of such a law firm. As the largest personal injury law firm in the country, we work with some of the best medical malpractice lawyers in the country, and we have the results to prove what we do.
Given that insurance companies understand how complex it is to prove malpractice, they are usually too overconfident of obtaining a favorable outcome until Morgan & Morgan attorneys walk into the room. This is because they know we are a law firm for the people and have access to the kind of resources most law firms don't have access to. As a result, we do whatever it takes to build the strongest case possible and don't back down unless you receive a fair settlement for the injury.
So if the negligence of a healthcare provider has harmed you or your loved one, call us today at 888 613 0357 or fill out our free case evaluation form. We may be able to get you the compensation you need and deserve.