What Percentage Of Medical Malpractice Cases Go To Trial?

Many Pennsylvania residents believe that if they file a medical malpractice lawsuit, they will have to go to trial. If you are the victim of medical negligence, filing a claim does not necessarily mean that you will be forced to go to a jury trial. In fact, many malpractice cases are settled outside of court. Medical malpractice claims can be resolved in several ways. Depending on your claim’s strength, the total compensation you are seeking, and other factors, the lawyers that handle malpractice cases at Raynes & Lawn might recommend taking your case to trial or trying to resolve it through a negotiated settlement. Here is some information about litigating malpractice cases.

How Many Malpractice Lawsuits Go to Trial?

The vast majority of medical malpractice cases are resolved outside of court. Few of these types of lawsuits go to trial. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 7% of medical malpractice lawsuits are decided by a jury. This means that an estimated 93% of malpractice cases are resolved outside of court before trials occur.

Are You Likelier to Win at Trial?

One of the reasons so many malpractice lawsuits are resolved outside of court is that juries tend to be biased in favor of doctors. According to research reported in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research over 20 years, doctors win most medical malpractice cases that are taken to trial. The researchers found that doctors win between 80% and 90% of cases taken to trial that have relatively weak evidence of medical malpractice. They also win approximately 70% of cases in which the evidence is considered to be borderline. Even in cases in which the evidence of negligence is considered to be strong, doctors still win half.

Plaintiffs who won their trials and reported information showed that they were likelier to prevail with different types of medical negligence claims. Among those filing lawsuits for prescription drug errors, 27% reported they had recovered compensation. Surgical errors accounted for 13% of the cases in which plaintiffs won and received compensation, and only 5% reported recovering compensation at trial for diagnostic or treatment mistakes.

These results underscore the difficulty of building a case and taking it to trial. If you take a malpractice case to trial, and it doesn’t go your way, you can be in a worse position than you were before. This makes it important for you to find a malpractice attorney with substantial experience before you file a malpractice claim who can advise you about whether to try to negotiate a settlement or fight through trial.

Alternatives to Jury Trials

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be resolved in a couple of ways short of going to trial. In most cases, medical malpractice lawyers negotiate settlements between their clients and the defendants. A second option is taking a malpractice case to arbitration, which is an alternative dispute resolution procedure that occurs outside of court.

Medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania can be settled at any point, including before a formal lawsuit is filed or afterward. If both you and the defendant are able to reach a settlement agreement, your case will not go to a jury trial. When you reach a settlement agreement, you will receive the damages that were agreed to during the negotiations. Attorneys engage in ongoing negotiations throughout the process. When a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the case will then head to trial for a verdict.

Arbitration is rarely used to resolve medical malpractice claims. When a case goes to arbitration, it generally occurs because of an arbitration clause contained in documents that patients sign before receiving treatment. In arbitration, both sides present evidence and have their disputes heard by an arbitrator outside of court. The decision issued by the arbitrator will be legally binding. Whether you want to try to resolve your case through a settlement, take it to trial, or are bound to resolve your dispute in arbitration, it is critical for you to retain an experienced malpractice lawyer.

Benefits of Avoiding Trial

Settling a malpractice case offers several benefits when your lawyer believes that doing so is in your best interests. If your attorney can negotiate a fair settlement amount on your behalf, you will not have to risk a potential loss at trial and will receive the damages you and the defendant agree to. If a settlement offer is unreasonably low, you can still turn it down and opt to take it to trial. If you are able to reach a negotiated settlement, the process might also be shorter and less expensive than if you head to trial. Litigating a medical malpractice case through trial can take several years. Settling a case also provides you with the security of knowing that you will receive the agreed-upon compensation for your losses.

Improving Your Chances of Prevailing in Your Malpractice Lawsuit

An attorney can never provide a guarantee that you will win your malpractice case if you go to trial. However, that does not mean that you should automatically try to settle it. The best way to increase your chances of prevailing in your malpractice case is to retain an experienced and knowledgeable malpractice attorney. Your lawyer also should be prepared to go to trial if it is necessary. When a lawyer has significant trial experience and a record of recovering compensation for his or her clients, insurance companies and doctors are much likelier to offer fair settlements instead of risking a potential loss at trial.

Talk to Our Malpractice Lawyers in Philadelphia

If you are the victim of medical negligence, you should speak to the experienced malpractice attorneys at Raynes & Lawn. Our Philadelphia attorneys have a substantial record of success and understand how to determine whether you have a viable case. We work closely with medical experts to build the strongest possible claims on our clients’ behalf. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-800-535-1797.


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