Malpractice Jury Awards Up Slightly

Physician's Money Digest, May 31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 10

Can you call it good news for physicians? Jury awards for medical malpractice claims rose only fractionally, according to the Jury Verdict Research report, "Current Award Trends in Personal Injury," 43rd Edition. After steadily climbing more than 100% from 1996 to 2000, the compensatory jury award median for medical malpractice cases (now $1,010,858) has leveled off the past 3 years studied. The percentage of $1 million or more medical malpractice verdicts, however, remained the same from 1999 through 2002 at 52%.

While the medical malpractice plaintiff recovery rate (ie, the ratio of plaintiff verdicts to total verdicts) was up 2 percentage points in 2002 to 42%, doctors still won the majority of those cases (see table).

"From the jury award median to the plaintiff recovery rate to the percentage of million-dollar awards, our medical malpractice statistics have remained relatively flat the past few years," says Jennifer Shannon of Jury Verdict Research. "It's safe to say the trend is no trend, according to our latest figures."

Jury Verdict Research (800-341-7874; www.juryverdictresearch.com) maintains the only nationwide database of more than 213,000 plaintiff and defense verdicts and settlements resulting from personal injury claims.