What’s the average settlement in a medical malpractice case?


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Medical malpractice is professional liability insurance for doctors and other healthcare providers. All medical malpractice cases are based on the following being found true:

  • A physician or healthcare provider had a responsibility to maintain a certain standard of care for the patient
  • The physician or healthcare provider inadequately care for or harmed the patient, thus breaching the standard of care
  • The patient’s suffering was a direct result of the breach of care
  • The patient suffered economic and non-economic consequences from this breach of care

How Are Damages Calculated

Your surgeon, pharmacist or other healthcare professional is entrusted with your safety and care. Not only do they have a moral obligation to do no harm, but a legal obligation as well. When there is a breach in this care, you provide the required documentation to prove your injuries. The severity of your injuries, age, and anguish will be used to calculate what you receive as compensation.

The average medical malpractice settlement amount is $425,000, but they can be as high as $1 million when awarded by a jury.

In California, no patient is able to receive more than $250,000 in non-economic damages.

Evidence Needed For A Medical Malpractice Case

  • Patient records, including letters from the doctor, if any
  • Results from lab tests
  • Testimonies from friends, family members, colleagues, or others who can speak on the daily difficulties and limitations of the patient as a result of the injury
  • Testimonies from any expert witnesses
  • Information from medical journals or scholarly articles

Doctor Demographics

California’s Physician Workforce Annual Report from 2018 gives important information about the people who provide medical care to residents in the state. The following data was collected and presented in the report about the demographics of California’s physicians:

  • Number of active physicians: 110,603
  • Total number of female physicians: 41,724
  • Number of physicians-in-residence: 11,646
  • Total amount of medical students: 7,837
  • Number of physicians practicing Internal Medicine: 15,652
  • Number of physicians practicing Family Medicine: 13,588

The American Medical Association (AMA) recommends that all physicians and healthcare providers carry medical malpractice insurance. Additionally, many hospitals will require it or provide it to their physicians.

What Affects Medical Malpractice Rates

When performing any surgery there is always an element of risk. A great example is the delivery of a baby, which is a significant emotional moment in the lives of family members, but also a significant moment in the child’s life. It is crucial that doctors perform births so each child can have an auspicious beginning to their life, and so mothers can heal comfortably and begin bonding with their child. However, any number of complications can arise during a normal human process, with the risks being the loss of life or the severe impairing of the child that prevents them from living a fully healthy and normal life.

This is one of the reasons why obstetricians have higher insurance premiums than other specialties. Other specializations that will require doctors to pay higher fees include:

  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Emergency medicine

For physicians in these fields, they may see their premiums starting around $100,000, with the average policy costing about $150,000 for medical malpractice insurance.


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