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Medical Malpractice Claims Generally End Without Payment

Here’s a funny trend, the majority of medical malpractice claims in seven states were closed without any compensation paid to those claiming a medical injury, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported. (Maybe it’s cause people complain about the littlest things and sue for nothing.)

The study included suits from 2000 through 2004 in Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada and Texas. About 1/3 of the medical malpractice insurance claims closed in Maine, Missouri and Nevada resulted in a payout. In Illinois about 12 percent of closed claims ended in a payout.

Very few exceeded $1 million.

Less than 10 percent of the claims in Florida, Maine, Missouri and Nevada had payouts of $1 million or more.

Florida, Maine and Missouri, about two-thirds of the claims were closed with insurance payouts of less than $250,000.
Insurance payouts were highest for claimants who suffered lifelong major or grave permanent injuries. In Florida and Missouri, claimants with these types of injuries received median payouts ranging from $278,000 to $350,000. Insurance payouts were lowest for claimants who suffered temporary or emotional injuries. In Florida and Missouri, claimants who suffered these types of injuries received median payouts ranging from $5,000 to $79,000.

So if you want some money what do you do? Well it appears payouts were typically lowest for claims closed prior to the filing of a lawsuit and highest for claims closed after trial. In Florida, Nevada and Texas, claims decided by trial resulted in median payouts that were at least two and a half times larger than claims that were settled. Claims closed after a trial also cost more for insurance firms to defend than claims settled at or prior to a trial.

Claimants did not file medical malpractice claims with insurance companies immediately after an injury. In Florida, Missouri and Texas, medical malpractice claims were filed with insurance companies an average of about 15 to 18 months after injury. After the claim was received, it took an average of 26 to 29 additional months to close the claim in these states.

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