After suffering medical malpractice at the hands of a negligent physician or hospital, you may find yourself with severe injuries that often have long-term repercussions in every area of your life. You may have high medical bills and the loss of wages due to your inability to work after that devastating event.
How much compensation can you expect for medical malpractice injuries? It may depend on the extent of your suffering and whether you can settle out of court or go to trial to recover reasonable compensation for your injuries.
Average Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts: The Breakdown
According to JAMA, the average compensation for medical malpractice claims runs around $329,565. However, averages can change dramatically between practice types. For example, general practice medical malpractice claims average around $235,000, while pathology claims average around $474,000. Approximately 7.6 percent of medical malpractice claim payouts exceed $1 million.
However, the factors affecting a medical malpractice claim can prove more complicated than you might anticipate, making those averages irrelevant to your claim.
Factors That May Influence Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Do you need to file a medical malpractice claim? You may need to look at several factors that can help determine how much compensation you might reasonably expect for the damages you sustained.
What increased medical costs did you have to pay because of medical malpractice?
You may have seen a doctor in the first place for many reasons: injury, illness, or a general sense of malaise, for example. Even if your doctor followed the appropriate guidelines in your care, you may have had significant medical costs related to treatment. Medical malpractice on the part of your care provider, however, may lead to even more substantial medical costs.
You may have needed more procedures or longer treatment than you would have needed if your doctor had followed the usual course of care in your case. Furthermore, you may have long-term medical needs related to the act of malpractice, like surgical errors and never events, which can cause a significant increase in the patient’s ongoing need for medical care and substantially increased medical costs.
Talk to your lawyer about the medical costs you may have faced because of the medical malpractice event, including:
- Treatment for side effects caused by medications that your care provider should not have prescribed to treat your medical condition
- Unnecessary treatments for your illness or injury
- Treatments intended to help you recover from damages caused by medical malpractice
- Physical or occupational therapy to help you cope with the impact of medical malpractice
- Longer-term hospitalization or a stay in a long-term care facility related to medical malpractice
- In-home care to help support you as you recover from medical malpractice or to provide you with ongoing support due to continuing limitations
Talk to your lawyer about whether you needed any home modifications to maintain your independence following a medical malpractice event. Did you have to install a wheelchair ramp or stair lift? Did you need to widen doorways or modify the kitchen or bathroom to improve your independence following a medical malpractice event? Your lawyer can help you learn how to recover compensation for those damages.
Consider the ongoing cost of medical care related to medical malpractice. Some damages, including never events and medication errors, can cause long-term disability or lifelong medical needs. You may know that you will need another procedure down the road because of medical malpractice: replacing a damaged medical device, for example. Your lawyer can help you calculate the cost of that later care and include it as part of your injury claim.
Did you have to miss work due to the impact of medical malpractice?
Often, serious injuries caused by a care provider’s negligence can keep you out of work for a long period after the incident.
You may find yourself dealing with various challenges that interfere with your ability to take care of your usual job responsibilities.
- Medications can fog your brain and make it difficult to manage creative problem-solving tasks or tasks involving significant cognitive function.
- Pain from your injuries or ailments may make it difficult for you to focus on the task at hand.
- The damages from medical malpractice may physically prevent you from taking on your usual job tasks, especially if you work in a physically demanding industry.
Talk to your lawyer about all time you may have missed at work due to medical malpractice. That may include time missed immediately after your injuries or time missed for ongoing treatments or therapies. Discuss whether you had to return to work on a limited schedule, give up vacation time, or use sick time to cover the time you spent off for treatment. Recovering compensation for the wages you lost because of a medical malpractice event can make it much easier for you to manage your usual expenses while dealing with your recovery.
What suffering did you face because of medical malpractice?
As you progress with your medical malpractice claim, your lawyer may want you to discuss the suffering you have had to deal with because of your care provider’s negligence.
Medical malpractice can often cause extreme suffering in several ways.
- Did you sustain a serious loss of independence because of medical malpractice injuries? That loss of independence can have a substantial impact on your emotional state.
- Do you suffer from new distrust of medical care professionals, including difficulty making appointments to care for everyday medical needs or feeling confident that your medical care provider has your best interests at heart?
- Do you suffer from depression, anxiety, or PTSD because of the medical malpractice damages you dealt with?
- What physical pain do you have due to medical malpractice injuries? This may include immediate pain after the event and ongoing, long-term pain related to those damages.
- What activities did the damages caused by medical malpractice prevent? You may, for example, have long-term limitations that prevent you from engaging in many of your favorite activities, or you may miss out on planned milestones or activities because of the weakness or pain caused by medical malpractice.
Your lawyer can help walk you through the damages and suffering you had to deal with, including how medical malpractice has impacted all areas of your life.
Where did the medical malpractice event occur?
Several states have medical malpractice compensation caps that will dictate the total compensation the victim can recover for acts of medical malpractice.
Those caps may depend on:
- The type of malpractice. Fatal or permanent injuries, for example, may have higher medical malpractice compensation caps.
- Who committed the medical malpractice. Some states, including Illinois, have higher caps for medical malpractice caused by a healthcare facility than medical malpractice caused by a doctor or care provider in private practice.
- Whether the injury involved multiple medical facilities or care providers.
Your medical malpractice lawyer will provide more information about your state’s specific laws and what you can expect from your claim.
Who committed the act of medical malpractice?
When you suffer medical malpractice, you will need to look closely at who may have caused or contributed to that malpractice as you move forward with your claim. A comprehensive medical malpractice claim will seek compensation from anyone who may have contributed to that malpractice event. However, the party that pays out may depend on who committed the act of medical malpractice, where it occurred, and who may have contributed to it.
For example, suppose that the care provider who committed an act of malpractice against you works directly for the hospital where that medical malpractice event occurred. The healthcare facility’s medical malpractice insurance may take responsibility for the claim.
On the other hand, some doctors may have permission to practice at a specific hospital but do not work for that hospital directly. In that case, the doctor’s personal medical malpractice insurance may kick in to provide compensation for your injuries.
A pharmacist may have medical malpractice insurance covered by the pharmacy.
Each medical care provider or facility may have medical malpractice insurance based on that facility or individual’s specific needs. The compensation you can recover for medical malpractice may depend, in part, on who committed that act of malpractice against you.
Do you have a lawyer to represent your medical malpractice claim?
When it comes to medical malpractice claims, working with a lawyer may offer you better odds of successfully navigating your claim and identifying the full compensation you deserve for the damages you sustained.
A lawyer can offer numerous advantages to your medical malpractice claim.
- A lawyer can help you comprehensively break down all the damages you may have sustained as a direct result of medical malpractice. That breakdown of damages can give you a better idea of what to expect, including when you should reasonably accept a settlement offer provided by the medical malpractice insurance provider.
- Working with a lawyer can increase the odds that the insurance company will take you seriously. The medical malpractice insurance company may not automatically offer the compensation you need for medical malpractice events. However, when you work with a lawyer, you may find that the insurance company provides additional support.
- When you have a lawyer on your side, you can often negotiate more effectively. Many medical malpractice victims find that working with a lawyer increases the compensation they can recover, even after paying their legal fees.
- A lawyer may offer more evidence related to your claim, including contact with an expert witness who can help break down how the medical malpractice occurred and what steps the care provider should have taken instead.
- By working with a lawyer, you can get more information about the medical malpractice process. In some states, for example, you may have to go before a medical malpractice board before pursuing compensation through a medical malpractice claim.
Working with a lawyer may also reduce the stress associated with your claim since you can feel more confident that someone will take your losses seriously and provide practical advice focused on your needs.
Do You Have Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice claims can prove extremely complicated. If you suspect that you suffered medical malpractice due to a negligent care provider, a medical malpractice lawyer can offer information about the next steps and help determine what compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A medical malpractice lawyer will look at several basic factors to help determine whether you may file a claim.
- Did you have a doctor/patient relationship with the care provider that behaved negligently in your treatment?
- Did the doctor’s treatment fall outside the standard of care expected for care providers, given the symptoms you described and any test results?
- Did you sustain injuries or damages related to the doctor’s negligent treatment? For example, your care provider may have behaved negligently in some cases, but you might not have suffered damages directly related to that treatment.
If you suffered medical malpractice at the hands of a negligent care provider, including hospital errors, medication errors, or a damaged medical device, working with an attorney can provide you with more information and support as you navigate your medical malpractice claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about the compensation you should reasonably expect for any injuries sustained due to a care provider’s negligence.