A recent article written by Michael Krauss, Professor of Law and George Mason University, listed a number of observations stemming from an annual compilation of medical malpractice payouts from 2013. According to the list, total medical malpractice payouts in Michigan for 2013 amounted to $7.45 per capita.

That number does not include all medical malpractice payouts, because it excludes those which involved no written request. Still, the numbers are fairly accurate. Krauss points out that most medical malpractice payouts come through a settlement rather than at the end of litigation. This may come as a surprise to many people, but it is true. 

Another observation Krauss makes is that most of the cases doctors do decide to defend in court end up being decided in their favor. In other words, if you are a patient injured by a physician, you are more likely than not to lose if that doctor decides to defend himself or herself in court. This is presumably because doctors are more likely to challenge cases with weak merits, but there could be other factors at play.

A final observation about medical malpractice cases, one which is not made in Krauss’ article, is that it can often be difficult for those who have been harmed by a physician to get an attorney to take their case. Claims that involve the possibility of bigger payouts are more likely to be taken than cases with smaller likely payouts with similar merits.  

That being said, patients who suffer injury at the hands of a physician always do themselves a favor by consulting with an experienced attorney to have their case evaluated. 

Source: Forbes, “The Puzzle of Medical Malpractice Payouts,” Michael Krauss, March 27, 2014.