The Largest Medical Malpractice Payouts
Aug 06, 2013 | Laura Joszt
More than half of all doctors will be sued for medical malpractice before they turn 50 years old, so it’s understandable that physicians view malpractice as a blade hanging over their heads.
Even worse, malpractice claims can take years (four on average) to be resolved. In 2012 there were more than 12,000 payouts, which cost a total of $3.5 billion. The good news, though, is that payouts have been on the decline since 2003. The payouts in 2012 were 3.4% lower than in 2011. Of course, not all cases are created equal, so we’ve compiled a list of the largest medical malpractice payouts from just the last five years.
More than half of the top 10 lawsuits involve injury to a baby during delivery. Perhaps not so surprising considering Ob/Gyns are the third most sued doctors, according to a recent Medscape survey.
The world of law can be a difficult one to rank. A $19 million verdict can get stuck in appeals and eventually toppled (as one case was), often years after the initial award. Cases were also not included if insufficient information was found during research.
Another issue with verdicts is that despite what the jury might award, the plaintiffs might not get to see all that money. For instance, despite one award topping $10 million, the plaintiffs could only receive $7.5 million because of a state cap.
Many states limit the non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases; for instance, California, Colorado and Kansas cap at $250,000, while Maryland caps at $785,000. But there are also 12 states that forbid caps on medical malpractice awards: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio (for wrongful death cases), Pennsylvania, Washington and Wyoming.
As scary as the following verdicts are, it’s important to keep in mind that these are far from the ordinary. The Medscape survey revealed that the plaintiff’s monetary award was over $2 million is just 2% of cases.
Here are the 10 largest medical malpractice payouts in the last five years.