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How does Montana rank in medical malpractice payouts?

How much are Americans being awarded in malpractice cases against medical professionals? Data have just been released that may be interesting to anyone considering filing a lawsuit against a doctor in Montana.

The National Practitioner Data Bank keeps track of every demand in writing to an individual medical practitioner that results in a payout. It's not a perfect measure, since verbally negotiated settlements and settlements only against hospitals aren't recorded, but overall an analysis of the per capita data provides a good snapshot of medical malpractice compensation in the U.S.

In 2013, Montana's payouts averaged $9 per capita. This is on the low end of the scale when compared to New York, which at $38.99 per capita sees more than four times Montana’s averaged payouts. Other states more than double Montana’s amount:

  • Pennsylvania ($24.77)
  • New Jersey ($23.31)
  • Massachusetts ($22.73)
  • Connecticut ($21.01)

However, Montana's payout average is about triple that of:

  • Texas ($3.03)
  • North Dakota ($3.06)
  • Wisconsin ($3.08)

There is little variation year-on-year within each state, but between states the differences are enormous.

An analysis of the data shows that the similarities and differences may be attributed to a combination of factors, such as legal caps on payouts, the status of tort legislation and the proportion of out-of-state patients. There is a hint of correlation between a state's wealth and its payout per capita. Interestingly, what does not seem to be the case is that states with low payouts have a lower percentage of incompetent medical professionals.

If you or a family member suspects you have been a victim of medical negligence, you should have a conversation with a medical malpractice attorney to assess to full cost of your injuries. Damages caused by medical negligence can have lifelong consequences, and injured parties deserve justice.

Source: Forbes, “The Puzzle of Medical Malpractice Payouts,” Michael Krauss, March 27, 2014

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