Only 1 in 5 Medical Malpractice Cases are Successful

The Associated Press reported yesterday that “Only 1 in 5 malpractice claims against doctors leads to a settlement or other payout, according to the most comprehensive study of these claims in two decades.” This confirms the up hill battle that we’ve seen with medical malpractice patients. Juries tend to give doctors the benefit of the doubt – even with gross errors.

Of course, the insurance company backed propaganda/ads you see on TV claim that there are “runaway juries” and that we need more “tort reform.” The reality is that insurance companies will continue to advance their agenda to limit the rights of people in exchange for more and more profits. Accountability cuts into their bottom line.

The AP article restates that “just a tiny fraction of the patients harmed by medical mistakes actually  file claims.”

So does the fact that only 1 in 5 medical malpractice cases actually result in some type of recovery mean that there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits?

Not at all. It’s much too expensive to bring a frivolous lawsuit. In Oklahoma, a doctor must review the file and advise the attorney handling the case if they think malpractice has actually occurred. The attorney then signs an affidavit that is filed with the petition.

This relatively simple step can cost thousands of dollars. After the lawsuit is filed, depositions will also need to be taken. Doctors typically charge by the hour for this type of thing. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to charge $1000/hour for their time. Throw in the cost of a court reporter, and several depositions (for different experts) later, and it’s not uncommon for the cost of trying a medical malpractice case to be more than $40,000.

Remember that malpractice attorneys handle cases on a contingency fee basis. They are also advancing all the costs in the case. Attorneys aren’t going to spend that kind of money on a fruitless endeavor.