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How Much is My Medical Malpractice Case Worth?
If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a medical professional or facility, you may be entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. However, as in any civil suit involving injuries, the numerous variables from one case to another make arriving at an average medical malpractice settlement amount impossible.
The most important factors when considering the value of your case include:
- The severity of your injury or harm
- How much, if any, additional care is needed
- How long will your complications last
- How has this situation impacted your life
- Does your case include long-lasting or permanent disability
- Is the level of fault clear
- Was the error egregious or understandable
To settle or go to trial, that is the question. Though we cannot provide average medical malpractice amounts, we do have some statistics thanks to the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine.
There is a sharp divide between settlement and jury trials, as far as how successful plaintiffs are in their medical malpractice suits. Settlements favor the plaintiff 61 percent of the time, while cases that wind up in civil court go against the plaintiff 79 percent of the time.
As far as award amounts, plaintiffs who go to trial receive nearly twice the average amount awarded to those who settle. Of course, only one in five plaintiffs win a jury verdict, so taking your case to trial is a big gamble.
Settlement awards for medical malpractice occurring in an inpatient setting average $363,000, whereas outpatient setting cases receive $290,000 on average.
Calculating Medical Malpractice Damages
Medical malpractice victims have three basic damage categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Some states place caps on damages, limiting the amounts medical malpractice victims may seek.
What are Medical Malpractice Economic Damages?
These are concrete and quantifiable, therefore easy to calculate. These include medical expenses and lost wages. Medical expenses cover more than doctor bills. You may also claim insurance co-pays and deductibles along with any out-of-pocket payments. Additionally, mileage to and from treatment facilities and possibly room and board are both allowable. Any home alterations, such as wheelchair ramps and other handicap accessible moderations also qualify. In short, keep detailed records of every expenditure related to your medical malpractice case.
Lost wages include both earnings lost due to treatment and potential earnings if your injuries reduced your income potential. Replacement services also qualify as economic damages. These are services you normally perform yourself, such as home maintenance and driving yourself to appointments, but that, due to your injuries, you must hire another person to perform. Again, keep detailed records to ensure proper compensation.
What are Non-economic Medical Malpractice Damages?
These are more difficult to calculate, as they include items such as pain and suffering and reduced quality of life. There is no set formula to calculate non-economic damages, so attorneys generally use a multiplier method (multiplying your economic damages by a number between one and ten), or use settlement amounts from similar cases as a guide.
If your state adopted tort reform principles, these damages may be capped, meaning there are limits to the amount victims may recover. Some states cap only non-economic damages, though a few cap the total damages amount.
What are Medical Malpractice Punitive Damages?
In a civil suit, punitive damages serve as punishment for negligent or intentionally harmful actions. Not all states allow punitive damages, whereas some allow them only in cases of gross negligence or intentional malpractice.
Schedule a Free Medical Malpractice Consultation
Medical malpractice suits have the potential to get complicated quickly. In these instances, hiring an experienced medical malpractice attorney helps ensure you receive the best settlement possible. Take advantage of the free consultation most medical malpractice attorneys offer. Time is limited during these appointments and you want to make sure the lawyers you speak with have all the information needed to accurately judge the viability of your case. Come prepared with a list of questions, paper and pen to record responses (you'll want to refer to them later when making your decision), and all of the documented details pertaining to your case. Questions to ask include:
- Do you work on contingency? What percentage do you take? Is that net or gross (meaning before or after deducting costs)?
- How much do you believe my case is worth?
- What is the viability of my case?
- How would you handle my case?