What Are the Chances of Winning a Medical Malpractice Suit?
A medical malpractice lawsuit can result in restitution for an injured patient’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. A successful lawsuit can give a patient the financial stability he or she needs to move on after a damaging medical mistake or act of negligence. Deciding whether to file a claim can depend on the facts and circumstances of the case – as well as the likelihood of winning.
Medical Malpractice Case Outcome Statistics
A study of the outcomes of medical malpractice cases spanning 20 years found that physicians win the majority of these cases. Physicians win 80% to 90% of jury trials with weak evidence, around 70% of cases with borderline evidence, and 50% of trials with strong evidence of medical negligence. Cases lawyers classify as defensible have an 80% to 90% drop or dismissal rate without payment. This evidence shows that it is difficult for patients to win medical malpractice lawsuits – even with strong evidence of medical negligence.
The study pointed out a number of potential reasons for the percentage of jury trials that rule in the defendant’s favor. They include the theory that juries could be skeptical of patients who file lawsuits against their doctors, and may sympathize with physicians. A long history of fraudulent cases against doctors has not helped plaintiffs who actually suffer harm at the hands of negligent practitioners. Evidence also shows that physicians are more likely to hire more experienced lawyers than plaintiffs. Attorney experience is statistically important in medical malpractice cases.
Juries also take the plaintiff’s burden of proof seriously in medical malpractice claims. They generally give defendants the benefit of the doubt when both sides of the case present evidence and credible expert witnesses. Jury trends in medical malpractice cases throughout history show that plaintiffs will have a difficult time winning these trials, even if they have strong cases. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice claims are almost twice as likely to win trials before judges as trials before juries.
The Challenges of a Medical Malpractice Case
Winning a medical malpractice trial as a plaintiff requires convincing a jury that a physician breached a duty of care in a way that a reasonable and prudent doctor would not have in the same situation. This is the main element of proof necessary to bring a medical malpractice claim. Proving negligence may take hiring experts, providing evidence, and – most important – working with an attorney. The typical medical malpractice case can involve the following challenges for plaintiffs:
- Confusing medical evidence
- Pressure from insurance companies
- Medical witness or affidavit requirements
- Complex litigation processes
- Going up against experienced attorneys
It is critical to protect yourself with a lawyer of your own when pursuing compensation for alleged medical malpractice. Since the odds are against you during a jury trial, it is important to aim for a settlement before the case gets to this stage. A Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer well-versed in these cases can maximize the odds of obtaining a payment without the need for a trial.
How to Improve Your Chances of Winning a Case
Improve your chances of winning your case by sending a demand letter to the defendant. A demand letter is one of the first steps toward obtaining a settlement. It describes the claim and makes a demand for compensation. Sending this letter is a step many claimants unintentionally skip – often resulting in no payout. Many plaintiffs who proceed without hiring a lawyer do not realize they should send demand letters.
A winning medical malpractice case has strong evidence of negligence, severe injuries and damages, and an experienced attorney. Hiring a lawyer is one of the best ways to strengthen your medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania. You will have a stronger position to negotiate with an insurance company and a lower likelihood of your case going to trial by jury. Contact an attorney as soon as you believe you have a medical malpractice claim for professional assistance right from the beginning.