Recent Study Finds Defendants in Medical Malpractice Claims Usually Win

A recent study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reviewed over 10,000 medical malpractice claims filed across the country and found that plaintiffs rarely win medical malpractice cases that go all the way to a jury verdict. An article discussing the study can be found here.

Most claims that are filed, over ninety-five percent (95.5%), never even make it to a jury. More than half (54.1%) are dismissed or settled before trial. Of those four and a half percent (4.5%) of medical malpractice claims that go to a jury, almost eighty percent (79.6%) result in verdicts in favor of the physician.

The study also highlights the extremely long length of time spent resolving medical malpractice claims. Understandably, the cases that were settled out of court were often resolved the quickest at just over eleven and a half months (11.6), but those that were litigated in court often lasted over twenty-five (25) months. When cases progressed all the way to a jury verdict, those won by the physician, took thirty-nine (39) months whereas those in which the patient was successful took an outstanding forty-three and half (43.5) months – almost four years!

The study, which went on to categorize the types of medical malpractice actions, found the highest rates of lawsuit dismissal occurred in cases involving internal medicine and anesthesiology, where as many as sixty percent (60%) of cases were dismissed. On the other hand, case involving pathologists were only dismissed thirty-six and a half percent (36.5%) of the time.

This is an important study because it shows that, statistically, most plaintiffs lose medical malpractice case and that it takes years to get a recovery. While these statistics are certainly discouraging, they are based on cases pursued by all attorneys, whether the attorneys specialize or do not specialize in medical malpractice cases. As a Baltimore, Maryland attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases, my win /loss ratio is much, much higher. For example, I pursue about 12-15 medical malpractice cases per year and out of those I am successful in almost all of them. In fact, in the past five years I have only lost one medical malpractice trial. And that is pretty much the way it’s been for me over the past 20 years. I believe my success is based on careful screening of cases, careful pursuit of cases and working hard on cases. Of course, each case is different and past record is no assurance that I will be successful in reaching a favorable result in any future case, but I think specializing in medical malpractice cases and working hard at it are two factors that really help my clients.

My cases also usually resolve much faster than the average in this report. Usually, my cases resolve in about one year to one and one half years. That is a big difference compared to the study and, in part, a reflection of how fast cases move through Maryland and District of Columbia Courts. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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