What You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice Settlements


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Medical malpractice can take many forms. There are babies who suffer from bone fractures and brain injuries as a result of birth injuries. There are surgical patients who are left with foreign objects like sponges, towels, and gauze inside of them. There are medical patients who are severely injured because they were prescribed the wrong dosage of a medication. There are even certain individuals who receive an operation that was intended for someone else or who have the wrong body part operated on.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of a debilitating or fatal medical error, we sympathize with your situation. We trust our doctors to heal us during vulnerable times and provide us with the best medical care possible. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals exhibit the expertise, skill, and responsibility that we expect of them.

To seek justice, the first step is to prove that your situation meets all of the requirements for a medical malpractice claim. There are four criteria that must be met.

  1. You need to be able to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed.
  2. There must be proof that medical negligence occurred, meaning that the decisions made and the treatment you received were below the accepted medical standard of care.
  3. The injury must be caused by the doctor’s negligent treatment.
  4. You must suffer from injuries as a result of the medical negligence.

Once it has been determined that you have a case for medical malpractice, the next step is to hire an experienced lawyer to help you pursue legal action. A knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney will have a medical expert review every detail of your situation and determine the best plan of action. In many medical malpractice cases, attorneys are able to reach significant out of court settlements. However, taking a case to court can be a viable option as well if you have a very strong case.

Regardless of which route you take, it is helpful to understand how medical malpractice settlements are calculated.

How are medical malpractice damages calculated?

When putting a price on the damages experienced after an incidence of medical malpractice, there are several factors to consider.

Economic damages (also referred to as special damages) are those that are capable of exact calculation. Items that fall under this category include:

  • Current and future work earnings
  • Current and future medical bills
  • Current and future prescription costs

Non-economic damages are those that are not capable of exact calculation. Items that fall under this category include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Non-physical pain and suffering – anxiety, fear, shock, etc.

As you can tell, it is much easier to put an exact dollar amount on economic damages than non-economic damages. Medical malpractice attorneys will typically refer to recent settlements and verdicts to get an idea of what amount similar cases were able to win. Since there are not any clear guidelines for determining the amount that should cover non-economic damages, it typically boils down to coming up with a compensation that is fair and reasonable.

How are medical malpractice lawsuits settled?

Medical malpractice cases can be resolved in one of two ways. Many cases are finalized with out of court settlements, so the matter never has to be taken to trial. The other option is to take the medical malpractice lawsuit to trial, which should only be considered if you have a very strong case. Statistics reveal that plaintiffs who pursue out of court settlements receive favorable results in 61 percent of cases. Conversely, out of those medical malpractice lawsuits that are taken to trial, plaintiffs receive favorable verdicts 21 percent of the time. Essentially, only the strongest cases should take their chance with a jury.

To learn more about your options when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits, you should contact Ross Feller Casey today.

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.