What Are the Statistics Regarding Jury Verdicts/Awards For Medical Malpractice Cases In Arizona and Comparison with Other States
“Four of the top ten 2012 verdicts in the State of Arizona were in medical malpractice cases. Those were the third, fourth, fifth and tenth largest medical malpractice verdicts that have ever been handed down over the past nine years in Arizona. That is a dramatic disparity with past years, in which defense verdicts have dominated this area. In 2004, medical malpractice cases that were tired had an overwhelming percentage of defense verdicts (93%) (Information taken from the Arizona Attorney Magazine, published by the State Bar of Arizona)
Over the past nine years, there have been 214 defense verdicts in Arizona medical malpractice cases, or about 79 percent of the verdicts rendered. In that same time, there have been 56 plaintiff’s verdicts.
This increase was also noted as a nationwide trend. There were 14 medical malpractice verdicts on the top 100 nationally, secondly to intellectual property cases in quantity of awards. Nationally, the average was noted to have jumped 140 percent. Between 2010 and 2012, at least six other states had what is believed to be their biggest medical liability jury award.
Some surmise that the change is due to decreased deference by juries to doctor’s decisions, insurance carriers forcing more cases to trial, and more errors due to the institutionalization of medicine. Others believe that doctors can be reluctant to consent to settlements, particularly when they believe their medical decisions were correct. In other situations, a doctor may want to settle but the insurance company may refuse. Others have observed that plaintiffs’ counsel, challenged by the cost and risk in pursuing such cases, are more selectively pursuing matters with very high damages potential. Still another theory about larger verdicts is that money doesn’t have the same effect on juries as it once did.”
As you can see from the above information, a common misconception in Arizona and elsewhere is that medical malpractice cases are frequent, plentiful and result in speedy and sizable settlements. This is not the case, and one must view these beliefs with significant skepticism. Arizona has a limited number of medical malpractice insurers, but without exception, they are sophisticated, have plenty of resources, and often litigate their cases up to and through trial. They have extensive resources including a large network of qualified experts on whom they know they can depend, regardless of the facts that oppose them. They are always prepared to spend considerable funds to defend their insured medical providers and to defend the litigation on behalf of these providers sometimes when the odds are against it. Arizona is not a direct-action state, so juries are never told that a doctor or health care provider has insurance. The jurors, to the contrary, may be under the misimpression that any verdict may bankrupt the physician or other providers involved. Statistics have shown that 80-90% of medical malpractice cases that are tried are lost by the victims. In 2000,
It is apparent from these recent statistics and this information that the odds of success in medical malpractice cases make the pursuit of these type claims very challenging. It is good to see that the situation has improved somewhat in the last few years, but it is quite evident why potential cases and clients must be closely screened. It is also true that many of the best cases of medical malpractice are settled without the necessity of going through a trial so the results of these cases are not factored into the statistics above.