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