Medical Malpractice Study

A recent study found that juries are more likely to side with doctors in medical malpractice cases. The study showed that juries are 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 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 rulings are in favor of the health care provider and that the cases that go to trial are the weakest ones since those with sound 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 medical malpractice suits end in a plaintiff’s verdict, the lowest success rate of any tort litigation. In Maryland, the number is reportedly 8%.

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

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