Saturday, January 12, 2008
Over at Day on Torts, John Day is analyzing the 2006-2007 "Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary." Day cites some interesting general statistics. For instance, total damages awarded in personal injury and death cases were less than half those awarded in the prior year ($94,500,000 in '05-06, $44,600,000 in '06-07). Also, the total number of tort cases filed has dropped in the last 10 years. About 5% of all tort cases end up going to trial (jury and non-jury). (I believe that is a little higher percentage than some national statistics I have seen in recent years.)
Then Day focuses on medical malpractice cases. There were 584 med mal cases filed in Tennessee in the year covered by the report. Of those, only 15 went to trial. Using national statistics, Day calculates that is far too few cases compared with the number of injuries caused by medical error. By way of partial explanation, Day states that lawyers will not take "small" med mal claims. Those of us who practiced in the area know that is true. The late Gary Schwartz noted that, in 2002, it cost at least $50,000 to hire experts for a med mal case. He stated that a case had to be worth in excess of $100,000 before a lawyer would take the risk of going forward. The rest of Day's analysis is here and here.