Malpractice Verdict Trends

I’m sure you have read many articles about doctors leaving our state and the cost of healthcare skyrocketing because of malpractice verdicts. I read an excellent article by a gentleman named Rick Cline, the legal editor of The Jury Verdict Reporter. After doing lengthy research on tracing malpractice verdict trends, his article highlights the following findings: The Jury Verdict Reporter reported 464 total medical malpractice jury verdicts for the years 2000-2002. Of 464, plaintiffs won a jury verdict award in 182 of those cases giving plaintiffs a 39.2% success rate in Illinois medical malpractice verdicts for this time period. For the years 2009-2011, they reported 382 medical malpractice verdicts of which the plaintiff was successful in 112 of those verdicts. That means plaintiffs were successful in only 29.3% of the verdicts representing a decline of nearly 10%. The decline of Illinois medical malpractice jury verdicts from 464 for the three years between 2000 and 2002 to 382 verdicts from 2009-2011 represents a decline of 17.7% in medical malpractice cases tried. The mean or average verdict award amount when plaintiff was successful in the years 2000-2002 was $3,294,842 compared with a mean jury verdict award amount of $3,013,686 for years 2009-2011. Although perhaps not a significant decline at first glance, these awards need to be viewed against the background of steadily rising healthcare costs over the past decade. Since plaintiff medical costs are a key component in medical malpractice damage award amounts, the decline becomes more significant when comparing the two periods. Of the 464 medical malpractice verdicts from 2000-2002, 17 of them had awards of $10,000,000 or more, representing 9.2% of the 182 successful plaintiffs for that time period. Only 7 of the 112 plaintiff wins for years 2009-2011, or 6.3% of the total, were for verdicts of $10,000,000 or more giving rise to the assumptions that not only is the average verdict down from the beginning of the decade but also that the “home run” verdicts we occasionally hear about are down as well.

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