How Often Are Plaintiffs Successful in Medical Malpractice Cases?

There are varying opinions on the supposed success rate of plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases.  Tort reform, which is led by the efforts of medical professionals and insurance companies, seeks to place medical caps on plaintiff’s medical malpractice recovery and make it more difficult to bring medical malpractice claims.  Medical professionals claim tort reform is needed because patients routinely and easily collect huge sums of money in medical malpractice cases.  Medical interests argue that most of these medical malpractice cases are not legitimate claims, or are not worth the amount of damages that plaintiffs recover.

However, the idea that patients routinely file medical malpractice claims and win millions of dollars, is not necessarily true.  It is actually far easier to have a claim thrown out of court, even if the claims are legitimate.  Further, even when patients are successful in medical malpractice claims, they often have difficulty collecting the award. 
The legal system provides methods for defendants to beat a claim, in general.  Defendants can file a motion to dismiss to get rid of the lawsuit for several reasons.  The motion can be filed as soon as the plaintiff files the complaint.  The defendant does not have to address the merits of the case.  The case can be thrown out for procedural reasons rather than substantive reasons.  The defendant can also file a motion for “summary judgment” later in the case, asking the court to throw the case out on the merits.
Further, medical malpractice cases are very technical, and require plaintiffs to use expert physicians to prove that the defendant doctor was negligent.  The plaintiff has to meet every element of a negligence claim.  If any element is not met, the plaintiff will not recover any damages.
While it is important to have safeguards in place to deter plaintiffs from filing frivolous lawsuits and making doctors’ insurance premiums rise, there is not necessarily a need to make it more difficult for plaintiffs to bring claims.  Some plaintiffs are unfortunately deterred from filing lawsuits against doctors fearing they will be unsuccessful because doctors have more money and are more powerful than them. 
Considering all of the above, it is important that injured plaintiffs consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney.  An attorney can navigate the barricades of filing medical malpractice claims and prove the legal elements required to win a verdict.
Posted in Medical Malpractice

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