TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Malpractice Payouts

A relatively new paper on SSRN:

Vidmar, Neil J., MacKillop, Kara and Lee, Paul, Million Dollar Medical Malpractice Cases in Florida: Post-Verdicts and Pre-Suit Settlements, Vanderbilt Law Review, forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

From the abstract:

The present article extends that research [on a closed claim database] much further by comparing two sets of cases in which the payment to the claimant equaled or exceed $1 million. The first group involves cases that were tried to juries.We systematically compare the verdict with the amount the insurer actually paid. We also go a step further and examine the nature of the injury, including the medical treatment sought and the alleged cause of the injury.

The second part of the article examines a group of cases that were settled without a lawsuit. One of the most interesting findings from our earlier article is that, of claims resulting in payments of $1 million or more, fully 10.1 percent were paid without pleadings of any kind. In contrast only 7.5% of paid claims over $1 million followed a jury trial. Thus, while jury trials loom large in the public debate, the truly invisible cases - invisible in the sense that they evade the formal court system - constitute an even larger source of payments. We ask about the nature of pre-suit cases and compare them to the cases that went to trial and resulted in a plaintiff verdict.

Our approach to malpractice litigation issues in this paper involves qualitative as well as quantitative analyses. The qualitative analyses place a concrete face on the nature of the issues and the injuries experienced by patients involved in malpractice claims.

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