OK kids, take out those #2 pencils. It’s PopTort PopQuiz time! Thanks to the Center for Justice & Democracy's new 13-page fact sheet called The Truth About Medical Malpractice Litigation, we have all kinds of new info about what’s going on in the world of medical malpractice lawsuits. So study up and see how many you get right!
1. Medical malpractice case filings are what percentage of all new civil cases filed in our courts?
a. More than 50%
b. Between 25% and 50%
c. Between 10% and 25%
d. Under 10%
The correct answer is: d. Actually, it’s far less than that. According to an April 2011 National Center for State Courts report, “despite the widespread prevalence of medical negligence,” in 2008 medical malpractice case filings “represented well under 2 percent of all incoming civil cases, and less than 8 percent of incoming tort cases.”
2. From 2000 to 2009, the number of medical malpractice case filings:
a. Increased by more than 25%
b. Increased by 10%
c. Dropped by 10%
d. Dropped by more than 10%
It’s d once again! In an October 2011 study, researchers found that from 2000 to 2009, med mal filings fell by 18 percent in the general jurisdiction courts of seven states reporting. In five of those states, filings fell by between 18 and 42 percent.
3. Some of the largest headline-grabbing medical malpractice awards in New York ultimately resulted in settlements that were what percent of the jury verdict?
b. Between 50% and 100%
c. Between 10% and 50%
d. Between 5% and 10%
OK I know I’m getting horribly predictable here, but again, the answer is d. The fact is that insurers for doctors and hospitals rarely pay what juries award. Usually it’s not even close. As Cornell Law Professor Valerie P. Hans and Duke Law Professor Neil Vidmar explain in American Juries: The Verdict, parties usually “negotiate a settlement around the defendant’s insurance coverage.” They also found, for example, “[s]ome of the largest medical malpractice awards in New York that made national headlines ultimately resulted in settlements between 5 and 10 percent of the original jury verdict actually being paid.”
For more great stuff, including excerpts from the October 2011 study by California State University, Northridge Economics Professor and Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar Shirley Svorny, who analyzed existing empirical data and found that the medical malpractice system works just as it should, continue reading here. Then get ready. You never know when another PopTort PopQuiz may be popping up!