Medical Malpractice Awards: Are they excessive?

Although pundits often proclaim that excessive malpractice awards are driving up health care costs and damaging our economy, you might be surprised to learn that malpractice settlements are on the decline, and very few claims ever result in compensation for victims of medical negligence. Although a multi-million dollar settlement may at first sound excessive, consider the life-long debilitating impacts that medical negligence imposes on victims and their families.

Medical Malpractice Settlements are On the Decline

The total number of medical malpractice payments has declined dramatically nationwide in the past decade, from nearly 16,000 in 2001 to under 8,500 in 2011. This number is actually shockingly low in comparison to the number of deaths caused by preventable medical errors: as many as 98,000 patients each year, in hospitals alone. According to a report by the Office of Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Department, approximately 134,000 Medicare patients each month will experience an “adverse event” while under medical treatment in a hospital, and as much as 44% of these events are preventable. Few of these injuries and deaths will result in medical malpractice claims, and still fewer will result in settlements. A recent study found that only 1 in 5 medical malpractice claims eventually results in a monetary settlement. That same study found that the average medical malpractice settlement is $275,000.

$275,000 sounds like a lot of money until you consider the personal ramifications of serious medical malpractice, including:

  • Years of lost wages, often resulting in relationship turmoil
  • Loss of ability to care for one’s self and one’s home
  • Loss of enjoyment of simple things like the ability to play catch with a child, sometimes permanently
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering
  • In some cases, even the death of a loved one

Case Study: What does a multi-million dollar medical malpractice claim look like?

Consider one of our cases as an example: a 53 year old father underwent surgery to repair an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Following the surgery, his tracheotomy was to be monitored 24 hours a day to prevent complications. After the hospital moved him to recovery, his tracheotomy was not properly monitored, resulting in respiratory distress and permanent brain damage. He now requires 24/7 care, from his wife and others. In this instance, Rob Kornfeld was able to obtain a $2.5 million settlement on behalf of the victim, who will not only never be able to contribute to the family monetarily again, but will also require round the clock care for the rest of his life, including assistance with basic bodily functions.

If you have been injured, protect your right to compensation

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence, you may never be made completely whole, but you should not have to suffer financially for the mistakes of a medical practitioner. Call an experienced medical malpractice attorney today, to preserve your right to financial compensation.

In Washington State, you have limited time to file your claim. For a free case evaluation of any injury or death resulting from potential medical malpractice by a doctor, nurse, or other health care practitioner, contact Seattle medical malpractice attorney Rob Kornfeld by phone now at (425) 657-5255. We are more than happy to make ourselves available at your convenience, whether at your home, in our office, or at a hospital. Major injuries due to medical negligence can lead to a lifetime of bills. Take action to preserve your peace of mind and your family’s economic security. Don’t wait. Contact us today.

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