How Settlement Negotiations Work in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice is more common than people realize. Medical malpractice happens anywhere around the globe. In the U.S. alone, 10% of deaths are caused by medical errors or mistakes. It is one of the most challenging trial cases to win, and it often ends up in settlement negotiations. Less than 1% is favored to the victim or the patient.

For this case, an experienced lawyer needs to have the resources to properly investigate the incident and collect evidence that can support a claim for medical malpractice. The lawyers need to fight hard to ensure that clients are fairly compensated for their losses. They have to negotiate effectively and litigate aggressively when they need to.


Starting Settlement Negotiations—Proving Negligence and Causation

In medical malpractice cases, the value of losses is what clients want to know. But before this, two crucial things need proof:

  • The doctor or medical professional was negligent
  • The medical professional’s negligence directly resulted in your injuries and losses.

These requirements are pretty straightforward, but proving them is complicated. You know that something has happened, but proving that it happened is what makes it more difficult.


Proving Medical Malpractice Negligence

In proving the doctor’s negligence, it requires evidence that will show that the doctor or a medical professional has indeed failed to act with “due care.” It needs to be proven that the medical specialist has not provided the standard of care that a responsible doctor with the same training, experience, and education could have done. 

The proof needs to indicate the specific and generally accepted medical practices done to the locations and the time that the malpractice has happened. For example, a doctor is not liable and cannot be found negligent for conducting a procedure that is not generally accepted medical practice until after the injury was made.


Proving Causation in Medical Malpractice

Proving causation is a more complicated subject.

For instance, a patient may have an existing medical condition that the negligent medical practitioner did not diagnose. The doctor can be found liable for medical malpractice because of prolonging the situation.  

Contributing factors may arise and give the victim more problems. For example, a medical practitioner has failed to diagnose a condition that would have required an operation. Still, that practitioner cannot be held liable if the patient had a bad reaction to the anesthesia provided. For it to have a valid claim, the injury must be related to a misdiagnosis.


Superseding Causation in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Superseding causation happens when the contributing factors have caused the injuries. The doctor’s conduct is so far removed that the injuries would have occurred regardless of the doctor’s negligence.

For example, if a doctor failed to diagnose and caused the delay in surgery by an hour, there was no change in the patient’s prognosis than what they would have an hour earlier. The patient’s only injuries were the underlying condition and surgical anesthesia – which the doctor has not failed to diagnose. The doctor will not face any legal responsibility for the injuries and will have no legal obligation to compensate the patient.


Negotiating the Value of a Medical Malpractice Claim

If it is determined that the doctor or medical professional is liable for the injury, the value of the medical malpractice claim can be negotiated. The value may include compensation for the losses sustained by the patient due to inadequate medical care, such as:

  • Prolonged pain and suffering, both mental and physical, more than what was caused by the original condition.
  • Loss of wages for the patient for its inability to work because of negligence and not because of the existing medical condition.
  • Loss of futures earning capacity as a result of the permanent injury.


Value for Wrongful Deaths Caused by Medical Malpractice

If a wrongful death has happened, the patient’s estate can be compensated for all the wages that can be expected the patient would have earned if it was alive.

The surviving spouse or children can file a claim for loss of consortium after a wrongful death. This will compensate the family for the loss of companionship and protection that they could have if the patient were alive.


Dollar Amount for a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice losses have no defined dollar value, the reason determining its value can be tricky and hard to predict.

Because the values are indefinite, the bulk settlement negotiations would often focus on the hypothetical values of the patient’s all-too-real losses. This undefined value becomes a target for political opposition. 

Without a bill supporting the “non-economic” losses for every medical malpractice, a plaintiff will not be awarded more than $250.00 for non-economic damages incurred by the malpractice. 


Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts

An approximately $242,000 is the national average payout for a medical malpractice case. This can vary significantly depending on the facts of the case. This brings up the question of who determines the settlement amount: the jury or the negotiating parties?


The formula to determine how much a medical negligence case is worth is:

Economic Damages (past & future) + Noneconomic Damages (past & future) = Value of Case


Settlement Payments Issuance

Once the settlement is determined, the issued payment for the patient’s losses can be collected in two ways:

Structured payment – The payment is awarded in cases that involve minor or birth-related injuries. The court makes sure that the victim will have money for long-term medical treatment.

Lump-sum payment – This is the payment preferred by victims as it is less complicated and allows more options to set up funds to cover the past, future, and current medical expenses of the victim.

Settlement payments are sent to the victim’s lawyer, who will deposit them into an escrow account. After any outstanding balances are paid off, including legal fees and costs, the victim is paid.


Reach Out for Legal Help

If you have been a victim of medical malpractice or know someone who was a victim of an injury that was caused by negligent treatment, some lawyers are willing to help you and get what you deserve. Medical malpractice will have a lifelong effect on its victims. Thus, acting now and reaching out for help can change the life of the injured patient.