Is It Better to Settle a Medical Malpractice Claim, or to Go to Trial?

Is It Better to Settle a Medical Malpractice Claim, or to Go to Trial?

In malpractice cases, many hospitals and doctors prefer to settle instead of entering into a trial proceeding that can potentially leave them liable for a much larger judgment. Further, many patients are eager to settle in order to obtain compensation faster and to avoid a difficult and extended legal process that can stretch over several years.

On the flip side, doctors and hospitals know their reputations are on the line. Healthcare providers generally won’t discuss a settlement until it’s fairly clear that they will be held liable for medical malpractice if the case does proceed to trial. Often, jurors award more compensation than insurance companies.

Settling out of court is an option to keep in mind if you have been the victim of medical negligence and intend to pursue a lawsuit for damages. The amount of damages you are seeking and the overall strength of your case may influence whether it is more advantageous to seek an out-of-court settlement or go to trial.

Do hospitals usually settle out of court?

Yes. Hospitals and doctors will settle if their liability is clear or there is a reasonable chance they will be found liable at trial. Medical testimony is critical to your claim. You will need experienced medical malpractice lawyers who are skilled at working with doctors who can prepare reports, give depositions, and testify in court.

Your doctors need to explain what type of malpractice occurred, what the appropriate standard of care is for the type of care you received, and why the hospital and doctors failed to use the appropriate medical care. Your physicians also need to explain how that lack of competent medical care caused you physical and emotional harm, the type of medical care you will now need, and how the lack of care affects every aspect of your life.

Settling out of court does guarantee you will receive some level of compensation for your injuries and losses, although it may not garner you the level of compensation available through a successful trial. However, the possibility does exist that a trial may leave you with zero compensation if the judge or jury rules against your case.

What is the average settlement for medical malpractice?

First, it is important to understand what damages medical malpractice victims in Memphis can claim. Your damage claim will include all of your current and future:

  • Medical expenses. These include corrective surgeries, hospital care, doctor visits, rehabilitation therapy, medications, assistive devices, home health care, transportation costs, and other medical costs. Many Memphis medical malpractice victims need medical care for their entire lives.
  • Pain and suffering. Patients have the right to compensation for their daily aches and pains the loss of quality of life, the inability to function, and all other types of pain and suffering.
  • Loss of consortium. The inability to enjoy marital relations.
  • Loss of income and benefits. Medical malpractice victims have the right to be compensated for their financial losses if they can’t work or earn a living. Many malpractice victims are permanently disabled.
  • Punitive damages. Victims may be entitled to punitive damages if the hospital or doctor’s conduct was especially egregious – such as operating while intoxicated.

According to Medscape’s 2021 analysis of medical malpractice cases, the leading causes of medical malpractice claims are:

  • Failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis
  • Surgery/treatment complications
  • Poor outcome/disease progression
  • Failure to treat/delayed treatment
  • Wrongful death
  • Abdominal injury

Some of the leading types of practices where patients file medical malpractice claims include plastic surgery, general surgery, orthopedics, urology, OB/GYN, specialized surgery, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, radiology, and cardiology.

About 1/3 of medical malpractice cases are settled before trial according to Medscape. About 12 percent of the cases went to trial. The remaining cases were resolved prior to trial or are continuing cases.

According to the doctors surveyed:

  • 4% of the results (settlement or jury) were for 2 million or more
  • 4% were for between one and two million
  • 15% were for between $500,000 and one million
  • 35% were for between $100,000 and $500,000

What are the benefits of settling before trial?

The decision as to whether to settle out of court is often determined by the amount of money the at-fault party is willing to offer for settlement. If this amount is unacceptably less than the amount you are seeking, and you know your case is strong and compelling, opting for a settlement may not be to your advantage.

The settlement process involves negotiation. You do not have to simply accept the first offer presented to you. For this reason, it is essential to have an experienced and aggressive medical malpractice attorney negotiating and advocating on your behalf.

Two major benefits of settling out of court are security and speed. An out-of-court settlement provides you with more security than relying on the decision made by a judge or jury. With an out-of-court settlement at least you know you are securing some form of compensation.

A jury trial can take many months or even years to complete. If you have medical bills and other expenses piling up, this period of time can be too long to wait to recover the compensation you need. An out-of-court settlement helps you avoid a lengthy legal process and get paid quickly.

When should you consider settling a medical malpractice claim?

Once you settle your medical malpractice claim, you cannot come back for more money. Many medical malpractice victims live with permanent injuries that require a lifetime of care. Patients need to understand their full lifetime medical needs, including:

  • What type of medical care do patients need?
  • Who will provide that care?
  • Who will pay for that care if their own health insurance or Medicare doesn’t pay?
  • How much pain and suffering the patient will endure on a daily basis?
  • How much will their injuries affect their ability to function and their quality of life?

Generally, it’s advisable to wait to settle a claim until you know the answers to the above questions. In some cases, these answers may become clear fairly early. In other cases, you may not have answers to these questions until close to the trial date. Our lawyers are skilled at working with your doctors and our network of doctors to help you find these answers. We’ll begin the negotiations with the insurance companies at the correct time.

Our Memphis medical malpractice lawyers have the experience and working relationships with medical professionals to fight for patients who are harmed by their healthcare providers. A few examples include:

  • Settlement of $12 million birth injury for a child who developed cerebral palsy.
  • Settlement of $7.5 million medical malpractice for a child who sustained brain damage.
  • Settlement of $7 million malpractice for a Memphis citizen who suffered severe brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Medical malpractice can leave you with a long road to recovery, both physically and financially. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, can investigate your case and help you secure the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. Residents of Memphis, Jackson, and West Tennessee can rely on our extensive knowledge and experience handling medical malpractice claims. To schedule a free case evaluation, please call us today or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.