Phillip Peters, a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, has written a new article entitled The Fairness of Malpractice Settlements. Professor Peters looked at the correlation between settlements in medical malpractice claims and the strength of the underlying cases. He concluded:
Researchers have studied the settlements that result from thisprocess and their findings are reassuring. Weak claims fare worst, toss-ups do better, and strong claims fare best. Weak claims are not only the least likely to result in a settlement payment, but they also settle for pennies on the dollar. Strong claims are more likely to receive a settlement payment, and the average payment is for a much larger amount. Unclear or tossup cases fall in-between. To be sure, the fit is not perfect, yet it is surprisingly good.
One interesting thing that the article doesn’t mention is that physicians, at least under most policies in Texas, have to give their consent to the insurance company to settle the claim. If the doctor doesn’t agree to settle, the case doesn’t settle. It seems that it’s hard to make an argument that physicians are scared by unreasonable settlements when their consent is required for most settlements.
Thanks to Los Angeles personal injury lawyer Lowell Steiger for the link.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care.