Nursing Home Settlements in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia

I’m always interested in the Metro Verdicts Monthly graph on the front of their publication which compares verdicts and settlements for a certain type of personal injury claim in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Sometimes I am surprised by the difference in the results.

Digging up an older copy, I am astounded by the difference between Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland in median nursing home liability verdicts and settlements since 1987. The median recoveries in Maryland and Virginia are $125,000 and $175,000, respectively. This means that the median settlement and verdict in Virginia is 40% higher than Maryland. Virginia juries are more conservative than Maryland, so this result is somewhat surprising. But here is what I find surprising: the average nursing home case settlement or verdict in Washington, D.C. is $700,000.  I realize there is no cap in D.C., but it is still amazing.

Real Value of Maryland Nursing Home Claims

Victims represented by nursing home lawyers that know what they are doing are getting much better results in nursing home cases.  First of all, and I tell this to anyone who will listen, these cases almost invariably settle before trial because nursing homes fight and claw and then pay good values on nursing home cases.  You can have a superb medical malpractice case and go to trial with a zero offer.  We tried a malpractice case last year with a zero offer and got a $10 million verdict.  That is not the crazy part.  The crazy part is that we had a zero offer case, and we were 1000% sure we would win.  Few experienced nursing home lawyers in Maryland have.  Because even halfway decent cases always settle.  If you have a halfway decent case.

nursing home settlementsThis is not the case with nursing homes.  If you have a good nursing home case – if you have a remotely good nursing home case — you will get a reasonable settlement offer.  We have never put a nursing home case into suit and resolved that case for less than $300,000.  Even cases with pretty gaping weaknesses, that number seems to be the floor.  In a good case, the average number will be much higher. The cap, as we talk about more below, is likely to be between $800,000 and $1 million because of the Maryland damage cap in nursing home cases.

I saw a post on Google this morning with the provocative title of “All Bed Sore Cases Are Automatic Money in the Bank.  Right?  Wrong!”  Just because you have a bedsore or other nursing home case it does not mean that you have a case that will lead to big settlement dollars.  If I take your nursing home case, there are no guarantees of success. But if we filed your lawsuit, and you did not get a good settlement, you would be the first.

Value of Washington, D.C. Nursing Home Cases

As I have written before, Washington D.C. is not the most hospitable jurisdiction for medical malpractice claims.  It is helpful that the District of Columbia does not have any medical malpractice caps and, certainly, that is a factor to consider.

In Maryland, nursing homes can rest easy knowing that is the typical case, it is hard in 2017 to get more than the $785,000 (or $981,250 in some wrongful death cases) pain and suffering damage cap in Maryland.  Why? Because nursing home residents rarely have economic losses such as lost wages or loss of household services that drive these claims.

I have done no sophisticated jurisdictional analysis, but I believe there is a general correlation between the size of nursing home verdicts and the size of medical malpractice verdicts. Yet these figures do not appear to support this conclusion. Metro Verdicts Monthly reports that the median settlement and verdict in Washington, D.C. for wrongful death medical malpractice cases over the last 20 years is $665,700. This is much less than Maryland’s median recovery of $900,000 or Virginia’s median recovery of $750,000.

These statistics would surprise me less if the study used average instead of median because the average can be influenced by extremely high verdicts or settlements that can create a misleading picture. But the median settlement or verdict number means that the study divided the jury verdicts and settlements into two equal groups, half having settlements or verdicts above the median and half having settlements or verdicts below the median.

Why Nursing Home Cases Almost Invariably Settle

There are not a lot of nursing home cases going to trial.  The reason is that nursing homes know juries in 2020 are wise to the fact that care in these facilities is well below what it should be.   Jurors come to trial suspicious of nursing homes from the outset.   So it is not like a regular medical malpractice case where the jurors assume the doctor is competent and would not likely make a mistake.

The other reason nursing home cases settle is that there is too much money being made by large nursing homes to risk a jury verdict that gets printed in the Baltimore Sun.  The pain for the nursing home is the article itself but also that people get wise about nursing home neglect and you see more “nursing homes are awful” type follow-up articles.  So the companies will often do what has to be done to make sure these cases never see the light of day and that a confidentiality clause seals the settlement.

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