New York Leads Malpractice Awards

September 16, 2008
Physician's Money Digest, January31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 2

When it comes to malpracticelawsuit payments, no statecomes close to New York. Accordingto Pennsylvania MedicalSociety statistics, total payments formalpractice jury awards in theEmpire State totaled almost $633million in 2000 (the last year forwhich complete numbers are available),far more than the $352 millionpaid out in Pennsylvania,which was second on the list. Sixother states had total malpracticepayouts of $200 million or more—California, Florida, Illinois, NewJersey, Ohio, and Texas. Of the 8states that top the list in malpracticepayments, only California andIllinois are not on the AMA's list of"malpractice crisis"states. Theother "crisis"states are Georgia,Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Washington,and West Virginia.California's statistics are particularlytelling. Although it's thenation's most populous state, itranks only seventh in total malpracticepayments, with slightly morethan $200 million, less than a thirdof the payments in New York.Helping to hold down malpracticepayments in the Golden State is astate law that caps jury awards at$250,000 and bars suits for noneconomicdamages. One result is thatthe median malpractice award in

California is just $55,000, the lowestin the nation. In New York, themedian payment is $150,000. Otherstates with low median malpracticepayments are Vermont and Kentucky,at $75,000; Michigan andColorado, $85,000; Utah, $90,000;and Arkansas, $92,000. The stateswith the highest median malpracticeawards are Maine, at $262,000,and Massachusetts, at $250,000.