How much money can I expect from a medical malpractice complaint?


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Question:

My wife has been suffering from ongoing illness for almost 8 months caused by a mistake made by our doctor. I want to file a complaint against the doctor. How much money can I expect from a medical malpractice complaint?

Answer:

There's no way to answer this question if you're looking for a specific dollar figure. But there are a few things you need to know when it comes to how medical malpractice cases work, especially as compared to a typical personal injury case.

As you've probably heard by now, the vast majority of personal injury cases (car accidents, slip and fall claims, etc.) end up settling out of court. They may even settle before a lawsuit is filed. Not so with medical malpractice cases. Of course, many end up settling before trial, but doctors and other health care professionals (and their respective insurers) are less willing to simply cut a check to a patient who claims they were injured by sub-standard health care.

There are a number of reasons why med mal cases settle less frequently than other personal injury cases. One is that the health care industry is concerned with keeping down the costs of liability insurance, and so you can expect defendants to put up a fight in all but the most obvious cases of medical negligence. Another reason is that, as part of tort reform efforts, most states have set up procedural safeguards that try to weed out meritless medical malpractice cases before they make it to court. So, once a case actually gets to court, both sides may be more inclined to dig in for a fight.

Now, back to your original question. We'd need to know a lot more about your case -- the severity of the harm suffered by your wife and the clarity of the doctor's negligence, for starters -- to get into specifics, but you can take a look at recent trends and statistics in medical malpractice cases nationwide to get a general sense of different case outcomes from a dollar amount standpoint. You'll find that information in the links below.

by: , J.D.

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