Medical malpractice injures about 80,000 people each year, but only one out of every eight victims pursues a lawsuit. Over 95% of medical malpractice lawsuits are settled out of court. If you have been injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of a health care professional you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away and find out if you are eligible for compensation. Since these cases rarely go to trial, you should also understand that your case will probably be settled out of court, and you need to know what that means and what to expect.
Most doctors, and many other health care professionals, carry medical malpractice insurance. What this means to you as the plaintiff is that, unlike many types of lawsuits, ability to pay is rarely a consideration when determining whether or not to file your case and when evaluating a settlement offer. Factors which will affect the amount of compensation include:
- Severity of injury
- Overall impact that the injury has on your life
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future loss of wages and earning ability
- Any other expenses associated with the malpractice
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Your past medical history
- Extent of negligence or wrongdoing
- Laws which limit the award available to medical malpractice victims in your state
While you never know what might happen if the case goes to a jury, some attorneys estimate that on average a medical malpractice settlement will yield about half of the amount of a jury award. However, the risk of receiving nothing at all is removed. The expenses of going to trial are also removed for both sides, as well as a great deal of time, effort, and often heartache.
One aspect of settlements, for which the victim is often not prepared, is the confidentiality provision. For many people pursuing a medical malpractice claim this can be the most shocking and painful aspect to consider. Confidentiality provisions mean that the wrongdoer will not be publicly exposed, and it may or may not go on any kind of public record as a generic listing of number of claims paid.
You must understand the seriousness of confidentiality provisions. Should you accept and then breach the provisions, you could lose the right to any future payments and be required to pay back any money which you have already received. In other words, you could forfeit your entire settlement.
The inclusion of confidentiality provisions in a settlement is pretty standard and you should not let it stand in the way of accepting the settlement. The terms of the confidentiality provisions, however, should be very clear. Prohibited disclosures should be clearly defined and typically include intentional disclosure to the media. Exclusions should include disclosures made for tax advice and other financial advice. Also, for tax purposes, the value of the confidentiality provisions should be specified in the settlement agreement.
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be very emotional and, as the victim, you may find the idea of a settlement very unpalatable at first. In the long run, a settlement is going to save you time, money, and personal hardship. That does not mean you should accept any offer that comes your way. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you evaluate your settlement offer and help you get the compensation that you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by medical malpractice, talk to experienced medical malpractice attorneys such as Fuller & Fuller Attorneys today.