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What Is the Average Settlement for a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Matthew Dolman, Florida Personal Injury Attorney

Matthew Dolman, Medical Malpractice Attorn

Medical Malpractice Settlement Average Value

When a medical professional makes an error that injures you, it’s often difficult to contain your reactions. Medical negligence injuries cause pain, anxiety, physical impairments, and emotional distress. When your injury occurs at the hands of a professional you trust, you may also feel angry and sad.

When a doctor betrays your trust, it sometimes feels as though you’re working your way through a grieving process. As you heal, you’ll come to terms with some of your losses. If your pain is ongoing and your physical impairments are permanent, it often takes a concerted effort to move beyond your doctor’s medical negligence.

You’ll eventually find a new healthcare provider. You’ll begin a new doctor/patient relationship and your physical and emotional issues should ease with time. Full relief often comes only after you’ve confronted the medical professional who injured you and made them pay for the damages they caused. For more assistance with your medical malpractice accident claim speak with the skilled attorneys at Dolman Law Group.

Medical Malpractice Claims In Florida

Florida’s Medical Malpractice Statutes, Chapter 766, provide legal recourse when you’re injured due to a medical event. Injured patients recover damages when a physician fails to meet the “…prevailing standard of care…” The statute encompasses acts often referred to as medical negligence, medical malpractice, and medical errors. Whether a practitioner harms you due to an error, omission, or commission, you have the right to recover damages to compensate you for your physical, medical, emotional, and financial losses.

Medical negligence can involve a surgical issue, errors during an at-risk delivery, failure to provide a timely diagnosis, or any other adverse medical event. Malpractice isn’t just a doctor-related problem. Pharmacists fill prescriptions improperly. Nurses dispense the wrong medications. Chiropractors injure patients during manipulations. Injuries occur in all types of medical facilities and under many circumstances.

Medical malpractice still surprises people who place doctors and other medical professionals on a pedestal. Just like gardeners, chefs, postal employees, and other workers, medical practitioners are human so they make mistakes. There’s a big difference between a medical professional’s mistake and the errors other people make. When a medical professional makes a mistake on the job, it usually involves a patient who relies on their professional care and medical expertise.

Medical professionals can’t afford the having-a-bad-day-at-work mistakes that other people make. A medical professional’s errors cause serious patient injuries. In a worst-case scenario, a medical mistake causes permanent impairment or death.

Florida Doctor Demographics

Each day physicians and healthcare providers take control of patients’ lives. They prescribe their medications, cut into their bodies and bring their newborns into the world. Unless one of them makes a newsworthy error, their patients know very little about them. While doctors know everything about patients, few patients know anything about their doctors’ practice, patient load, age, license status, experience, or personal demographic.

Florida Health Department’s Physician Workforce Annual Report provides critical insight into the group of doctors who care for Florida patients. The data reflects one key trend: Florida’s physicians are an aging population. While that’s not a significant factor to many people, it could be meaningful information if the physician who injured you was a few years away from retirement age or beyond.

The Workforce Report contained these and other pieces of physician-related data.

  • 80,785 state-licensed physicians live in Florida.
  • 52,936 doctors maintain an active Florida practice.
  • 32,635 licensed physicians are 50 years or older.
  • 18,548 licensed physicians are age 60 and older.
  • The average age of a practicing physician is 54.
  • The oldest practicing physician is 91 years old.
  • 33,496 doctors see between 1 and 99 patients each week.
  • 13,401 see between 100 and 199 patients.
  • 6,633 doctors plan to retire within five years.
  • The Average Cost of Medical Negligence in Florida

Medical professionals don’t begin each day with a plan to harm patients, but they purchase medical malpractice insurance just in case. At 562 million premium dollars annually, Florida ranks number four in the country for paid premiums for direct-written malpractice insurance policies. This figure doesn’t asses the premium value of the two captive insurers who write policies exclusively for a chain of hospital affiliates.

Each year, malpractice insurers report their results to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. The department provides the details in an annual report entitled, Medical Malpractice Financial Information. Based on 2018 paid claim data from the top 25 malpractice insurers in Florida, carriers paid an average of $1,037,009 in indemnity costs per paid claim. As this is an average, some of the paid cases reviewed were higher than the average while others were lower. As the top 25 malpractice carriers wrote 80 percent of the policies in the state, the FOIR considers their statistics an accurate measure of Florida malpractice cases.

The report provides these additional statistics for malpractice claims closed during 2018.

  • An average of 523 days passed between the date of a medical occurrence and the date an injured person filed a claim. An average of 719 days passed between the medical occurrence and the date the insurer closed the claim.
  • Florida malpractice insurers reported closing 2,927 malpractice claims in 2018: Women made 1,552 claims and men made 1,375 claims.
  • The top 25 malpractice insurers closed 1,239 claims without making an indemnity payment. 800 claims were included in the average paid claim figures listed above.
  • The top 25 insurers paid $829,607,642 in indemnity dollars.
  • They paid $217,762,199 in loss adjustment expenses and defense costs.
  • The top locations for malpractice events included Hospital Inpatient-1,298, Physician’s Offices-470; Emergency Rooms-312; and Outpatient Facilities, 197.
  • The top causes for claims and number of incidents were Death-883; Minor infections, missed fracture, etc,- 497; loss of finger, organ damage, etc.-383; major burns, drug reactions-364; Deafness, loss of limb, loss of eye-278. The list included several additional claim categories.
  • Top 10 Florida counties for closed malpractice claims included Dade, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Broward, Pinellas, Orange, Duval, Pasco, Lee, Polk.

How Do You Report a Malpractice Claim?

Medical Malpractice Lawyer FloridaIf a medical practitioner injures you he has the option of reporting a claim to his insurance carrier. Malpractice insurance companies sometimes handle medical negligence claim the same way they do auto or premises liability claims. They investigate the incident and determine if their insured failed to meet an established standard of care. They evaluate your injuries to assess the value and determine if they’re related to the adverse event.

Sometimes insurance companies settle malpractice claims. It allows them to avoid costly litigation and the publicity that often follows. Of course, for major injury claims, this can be the exception rather than the rule. When you’re injured due to a medical event, it can trigger a range of responses.

  • Medical professionals often avoid turning in malpractice claims as they might increase their rates.
  • If a medical professional reports an incident, insurance companies sometimes accept the claim as “notice only” and do nothing.
  • Often, medical professionals hold off on reporting cases because some victims never realize they’ve sustained an injury.
  • If a patient doesn’t suspect a problem, the medical professional doesn’t mention it.
  • A don’t-ask-don’t-tell strategy allows a medical professional to ignore a situation until the statute of limitations runs… or until their patient files a legal action.
  • Sometimes a medical professional isn’t aware that they caused a medical injury until the injured person’s attorney sends a letter of representation or files a court petition on his client’s behalf.

A Malpractice Case Usually Requires Legal Action

The statutes that give you the legal right to make a malpractice claim also establish the process you must follow to present your case. They are spelled out in Florida Tort Statutes, Chapter 766, Medical Malpractice and Related Matters. The rules aren’t designed to make it easy for a person without legal experience. That’s why it’s important to work with a legal professional who thoroughly understands malpractice issues.

The statutes provide specific timeframes and procedures. Unlike a general personal injury claim, you can’t file a lawsuit and hope you can better substantiate your claim sometime in the future. Before filing a malpractice petition, your attorney must certify that he conducted a good faith investigation and that he has a supporting opinion from a medical expert.

Your court filing puts the process on hold. If the statute of limitations is close, the filing prevents it from running for 90 days. Once a defendant receives your petition, they must investigate the incident and the legal process proceeds from there.

Medical Malpractice Was Once Kept Secret

In past years, patients injured due to malpractice had a limited support system. Medical errors often went unexplained and unchallenged. Patients sometimes recognized blatant negligent acts but minor injuries often passed below a patient’s radar. Sometimes victims didn’t even realize that they were victims. When a patient sued, judgments rarely made the news.

When a healthcare provider violated a critical standard, patients had few resources to help them figure it out. They had no way to find out about adverse events or educate themselves about the potential for problems. Attorneys didn’t advertise, so few people understood their right to make a claim.

The medical malpractice information deficit has changed in recent decades. The internet supports a generous flow of previously inaccessible information. If you suspect that your doctor committed a negligent act, you can connect with attorneys with a focus on malpractice cases. You can review Florida-specific healthcare industry reports, file a complaint online, and access relevant information from these and many other credible resources.

Medical Malpractice Financial Information Report

This report is a Closed Claim Resource produced by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. It outlines the types of malpractice claims made, paid and unpaid claim settlements, insurance company defense and claim handling costs paid during the previous year.

The Florida Patients’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

Florida Statute, §381.026, explains a patient’s basic rights when they seek treatment at a healthcare facility:

  • Individual dignity: privacy, respect, response to questions, and other rights.
  • Information: a right to know a treating professional’s identity, hospital rules, an interpreter, etc.
  • Financial information: fee schedules, estimates, bills
  • Access to healthcare: the right to treatment for a condition that will deteriorate without it
  • Experimental research: the right to know about experimental treatment and refuse it
  • Knowledge of your rights and responsibilities

The National Healthcare Quality Report

The National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report cited Florida as one of several states nationally with healthcare quality issues. This annual report documents disparities in treatment based on numerous healthcare categories. A subsequent report focuses more on demographic trends in healthcare.

Medicare.gov

If you’re interested in knowing how a hospital in your region compares to others, you can perform hospital research at the Medicare.gov Hospital Compare website.

The National Practitioner Data Bank

A private individual can use NPDB resources to access information about medical practitioners’ professional histories, licensure issues, malpractice settlements and more.

The Florida Board of Medicine

This site is a resource for medical professionals and healthcare consumers. As a patient, you can verify a doctor’s license, search for disciplinary information, or file a complaint.

Medical Malpractice Cases are Complicated

If you discover that your doctor injured you or your loved one, you should immediately schedule a consultation with a malpractice lawyer. You may even have a valid claim if you sustained an injury in the past, but only recently learned that it was related to a medical event. An attorney can help you sort through the issues and provide valuable insight into protecting your legal interests.

Malpractice cases are complicated. They involve formal procedures, technical legal issues, and statute of limitations problems. Even if you’re legally-savvy and you’ve negotiated your prior injury claims, you should understand that medical malpractice cases are far more complex than that.

An initial legal consultation is an information-sharing session only. You tell a malpractice attorney about your injury and the circumstances. The attorney listens to your story and explains whether or not he can help you. You don’t have to make a commitment to proceed beyond your initial meeting. If you want further action, an attorney can provide the appropriate recommendations.

Dolman Law Group
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900

Medical Malpractice Lawyer