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Health Care Providers Win Most Cases


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According to Jury Verdict Research, in the year 2000, health care providers won approximately 62% of the cases that were tried by a jury. That means that the patients only prevailed in approximately 38% of all the jury trial cases in this country.

In cases involving the allegation of misdiagnosis in a medical malpractice case, patients only won 37% of the jury trials against the defendant health care providers. These lopsided statistics demonstrate that the jury system in this country is not using sympathy to give run away verdicts to patients of medical malpractice.

Jury Verdict Research bases these statistics from its nationwide database of 193,500 personal-injury verdicts and settlements.

The 2000 statistics are slightly higher than in the previous years, but the six year average demonstrates that patients only won 34% of the time and health care providers won 66% of the jury trials.

It is hard to argue that jury awards to plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases is a valid basis to limit a patient's recovery in these cases. From 1995 to 1996 the percentage of jury trials won by plaintiffs actually went down by 6%. That trend continued between 1997 to 1998 when verdicts decreased from 35% to 33% of jury cases won by the plaintiff.

Critics of these statistics argue that the median award increased by approximately $250,000 between 1999 and 2000. However, what is not mentioned is the fact that the overall costs of pursuing these cases and the low chance of prevailing at a jury trial has had a chilling effect on filing these cases. Thus, only the most clear cut high damage cases are worth pursing. Those cases are worth more and thus drive the statistical average award higher.

In other words, without more zero and low dollar verdicts driving the average award lower, the median award will appear higher. This simply means that all of the past tort reform has worked to eliminate the frivilous cases from being pursued in favor of the really obvious cases of malpractice that have the most devastating consequences for the patients.

 

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