What Percentage Of Medical Malpractice Cases Go To Trial?


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If you are a victim of medical malpractice and are considering filing a claim against the responsible parties, it doesn’t mean that your case will end up in the courtroom. There are other options for resolving medical malpractice cases that don’t require a trial at all. Depending on the amount of compensation you are seeking, the strength of your claim, and other circumstances, it may be beneficial to have your medical malpractice attorney negotiate a settlement. However, in other situations, it might make better sense to take the case to a jury.

Do Most Malpractice Cases End In A Trial?

There aren’t a lot of hard numbers about how many medical malpractice cases end in a trial, but it is safe to say that most do not go to trial. In a study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, only about 7 percent of medical malpractice cases end in a trial in which a jury determines the verdict. That means 93 percent of these types of claims are resolved before a trial.

What Are The Alternatives To Trial In Malpractice Lawsuits?

There are several ways that a medical malpractice case can be resolved outside of the courtroom. The most common is when a settlement is reached between the parties involved. Another alternative is arbitration, which doesn’t happen as frequently, but it’s still important to understand.

In Pennsylvania, a medical malpractice case can be settled at any time during its progress. If both the plaintiff’s side and the defendant’s side can agree to a settlement, then the case will not go to a trial. The agreed-upon damages will be awarded to the plaintiff in the case. Negotiations for a settlement are often ongoing throughout the case. If an agreement cannot be reached between the two sides, then it will be decided in a trial.

Arbitration is rarely sought out as a means to resolve a medical malpractice case, rather it is done because of a clause that is in medical documents that patients often sign before they even see a doctor. Essentially, arbitration involves both sides having their dispute heard by a third party who then renders a legally binding decision.

Whether you think a settlement is the best way to go, you want to go to trial, or you are bound to arbitration, it is crucial that you have legal representation to handle a medical malpractice case.

What Are The Benefits Of Not Going To Trial?

There are some benefits to settling your medical malpractice suit out of court if your attorney concludes that is what is best. Much of this determination relies on the amount that the at-fault party is offering you. If it’s drastically less than what you are asking for, it might make sense to turn it down and go to trial. The whole process is a negotiation, which will have the best outcome for you when you have an aggressive malpractice attorney who will fight for what you are entitled to.

That said, settling before trial has two main benefits:

  • Speed – Getting to trial in a medical malpractice case can take years. That’s a long time to wait for compensation to pay medical bills and expenses or to recover lost wages. With a settlement, you will likely receive compensation much quicker.
  • Security – When a doctor or other medical party agrees to a settlement, your case is no longer determined by a judge or jury. You are guaranteed to leave with something.

How To Improve The Chances Of Winning Your Malpractice Case

There is no guarantee that your medical malpractice case will win if it goes to trial, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should settle out of court. Your best chances of having a positive outcome with your malpractice case rely on hiring an experienced medical malpractice attorney who has the knowledge to make solid decisions about your case and how to resolve it. It’s also important that your attorney isn’t quick to settle, but instead prepares the case as though it’s going to trial from the get-go. That means that your attorney will be ready to litigate if it comes to that.

At Ross Feller Casey, our attorneys approach every case as though it’s going to trial. We are prepared for whatever the defendant’s counsel throws our way. Our medical malpractice lawyers are knowledgeable in malpractice cases and laws, and we have leading doctors right on staff to review all medical records.

If you or your loved one is seeking to file a medical malpractice claim, contact our offices today to schedule your free case evaluation. All our malpractice cases are worked on a contingency basis, which means you are not charged until a financial recovery is made.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.