Most of those who support medical malpractice “reform” laws (such as the arbitrary capping of certain damages) base their belief in a few assumptions about the civil justice system. Those assumptions usually include the idea that it is easy for those actually injured by misconduct to get the compensation they deserve and that a large portion of medical malpractice claims are actually frivolous attempts to gain a quick buck. Many big insurance and medical interests engage in sophisticated tactics to perpetuate those assumptions among the public. However, it is vital that those of us actually involved in this field-such as every Illinois medical malpractice lawyer-takes the time to share honest information about these misguided claims.
Both those basic assumptions are not true. Eastern Iowa News recently discussed them in an article weighing the merits of a proposed medical malpractice damage cap in the state. The story discussed the issue above the talking points and delved into actual facts. It shared information provided by the New England Journal of Medicine revealing that the vast majority of doctors do not make a single malpractice payment in their lifetime. In addition, more malpractice cases than not are dropped before a payment is ever made. Put more concretely, the best available data reveals that three out of every four claims did not lead to payment overall, and in some specialty areas, nine out of every ten claims did not lead to a payment. In other words, the statistics make clear that filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Considering the costs that must be paid by medical malpractice lawyers to even begin the process, the filing of a suit results in an overall loss of money for those invovled.
Insurance groups try to counter these statistics by claiming that they prove that the majority of claims are without merit. However, that argument has also been rejected repeatedly by those who study the issue. Several years ago, Harvard researchers found that 97% of all medical malpractice claimed were “meritorious” when judged on a wide range of criteria. Patients are not filing suits concocted out of thin air. In virtually all cases there are very real injuries suffered and very real issues about the level of care they received by their medical providers.
Yet, even though those who file these suits suffer real injury, there are many barriers already in place for them to actually get the compensation that they deserve. As already mentioned, most cases fail to result in payment. That is not stopping big insurance interests from continuing to push for medical malpractice caps, however, that will limit even further the ability of victims of all cases to receive justice for the often deadly consequences of the medical errors. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys know that there are already significant obstacles that these victims must overcome before they receive any compensation, and there is absolutely no need for more barriers to be thrown in their way.
The results of medical malpractice caps are devastating for the families involved. It often costs a plaintiff’s firm anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 to pursue these cases. Many caps would barely even cover the costs of bringing the case to trial, let alone have sufficient money to cover the costs incurred by many medical malpractice victims as a result of the error, which can often reach millions.
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