malpractice, negligence, damages, juries, empirical research
Law | Medical Jurisprudence | Torts
Juries in medical malpractice trials are viewed as incompetent, anti-doctor, irresponsible in awarding damages to patients, and casting a threatening shadow over the settlement process. Several decades of systematic empirical research yields little support for these claims. This article summarizes those findings. Doctors win about three cases of four that go to trial. Juries are skeptical about inflated claims. Jury verdicts on negligence are roughly similar to assessments made by medical experts and judges. Damage awards tend to correlate positively with the severity of injury. There are defensible reasons for large damage awards. Moreover, the largest awards are typically settled for much less than the verdicts.
Neil Vidmar, Juries and Medical Malpractice Claims: Empirical Facts Versus Myths, 467 Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research 367-375 (2009).