Medical Malpractice Study

A recent study found that juries are more likely to side with doctors in medical malpractice cases. The study indicated that juries tend to be skeptical of people and their lawyers who sue their doctors and that most medical malpractice trials result in a verdict for the medical doctors. (See yesterday’s Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Blog post for one more reason why they may be skeptical.)

The author of the study, Philip Peters Jr., of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, concluded that juries treat doctors favorably, “perhaps unfairly so,” and are more likely than even fellow physicians to defer to a doctor’s opinion.

Peters found that most medical malpractice suits are decided in favor of the health care provider and that the cases that go to trial tend to be the weakest ones, since those with strong evidence usually settle before trial. In an examination of win rates in New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan, Peters found that 27% to 30% of filed medical malpractice suits end in a plaintiff’s verdict, the lowest success rate of any type of tort litigation. In Maryland, the number is reportedly 8%.

Does this mean that medical malpractices case in Maryland are 3 or 4 times more difficult than in the cases listed in this study? No. Most likely, the difference can be explained by the fact that malpractice insurers, to their credit, make reasonable offers on case that should be settled.

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