Posted in Medical Malpractice on October 2, 2023
When it comes to medical malpractice cases, one of the most common questions that people ask is, “How much is the average medical malpractice settlement?” It’s a question rooted in the desire to understand what might be expected in terms of compensation when medical negligence has occurred.
At Heenan & Cook in Montana, we recognize that clarity is essential, especially in complex legal matters. So, in this article, we will provide you with a simplified overview of the factors that influence the amount you might receive from a medical malpractice settlement. Let’s get started with this guide to medical malpractice lawsuits.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
To begin, let’s take a look at what medical malpractice actually is. Let’s take a scenario where a patient goes to a doctor because they are not feeling well. It stands to reason that the patient trusts the doctor to take good care of them, given that’s what doctors are supposed to do.
Now, let’s say something goes wrong during your treatment, and you get hurt, or your condition gets worse. That’s where the concept of medical malpractice comes in.
Medical malpractice is like saying the doctor didn’t do their job the way they should have. It happens when a healthcare provider, like a doctor or a nurse, doesn’t meet the standard of care that’s expected in their profession. In simple terms, they didn’t take the right steps to keep you safe and healthy.
Healthcare providers are supposed to follow certain rules and guidelines when treating patients. This is called the “standard of care.” When they don’t, it can lead to medical malpractice.
For it to be medical malpractice, you also have to be harmed or injured because of the mistake. It’s not enough for them to make a mistake; it has to cause you harm.
Key Factors Influencing Settlement Amounts
The amount you may receive from a medical malpractice settlement can vary widely depending on several crucial factors. Let’s break them down in a simple and easy-to-understand manner.
Extent of Injury
The severity of the patient’s injury plays a significant role in determining the settlement amount. More severe injuries often lead to larger settlements.
For example, a patient who suffers a life-altering disability due to medical negligence may receive a more substantial settlement compared to someone with a minor injury.
Another critical factor is the total medical expenses incurred as a direct result of the malpractice.
This includes past medical bills, ongoing treatment costs, and any future medical expenses related to the injury. Higher medical expenses typically lead to higher settlements.
If the patient has lost wages or earning capacity due to the malpractice, this can also be factored into the settlement amount. For example, if a person is unable to work for an extended period, the settlement may include compensation for their lost income.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to tangible losses like medical expenses and lost income, patients may also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages for their pain and suffering. This is a less concrete but significant component of many medical malpractice settlements.
The availability of insurance coverage can impact the settlement amount. If the healthcare provider has malpractice insurance, it can potentially cover a significant portion of the settlement.
Conversely, if the provider is uninsured or underinsured, it may affect the final amount.
Effective negotiation skills are a vital component in the realm of negligence cases. Lawyers representing both sides, the injured party and the party accused of negligence, engage in negotiations to reach a settlement.
A skilled attorney adept in negotiation can often secure a more favorable settlement for their client. They can navigate legal complexities, assess the strength of the case, and effectively communicate their client’s position to reach an agreement that best serves their client’s interests.
State laws play a significant role in negligence cases, and it’s important to note that Heenan & Cook are the leading experts in Montana law.
Each state has its own set of regulations and rules governing negligence claims, including any caps or limitations on damages that may apply. These state-specific laws can have a considerable impact on the outcome and potential settlement amounts of negligence cases.
In Montana, the cap on non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case is set at $250,000. This amount was set by the legislature nearly 30 years ago, and was not adjusted for inflation. While there are arguments against the cap, the result of the cap is that children and elderly malpractice victims are often not fairly compensated for medical malpractice injuries.
Strength of Evidence
The strength of the evidence is a pivotal factor in negligence cases. It’s like having a solid foundation for your argument. In simpler terms, the more convincing and clear the evidence is, the better your chances of success in your case.
This means carefully assessing and presenting the evidence in a way that makes a compelling case. Strong evidence can include documents, witness testimonies, and expert opinions that support the claim of negligence. A robust presentation of evidence is crucial for achieving a favorable outcome in a negligence case.
Will of Both Parties
Sometimes, settlements depend on the willingness of both parties to reach an agreement. If both sides are motivated to resolve the case, it can lead to a quicker and potentially larger settlement.
It’s important to note that there is no fixed “average” medical malpractice settlement amount because each case is unique. Settlements can range from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the circumstances.
Consulting Legal Experts
Navigating a medical malpractice case and determining a fair settlement amount can be complex. That’s why it’s crucial to consult with experienced legal professionals like Heenan & Cook in Montana.
Our team can assess the specific details of your case, consider all relevant factors, and provide you with guidance on the potential settlement you may be entitled to.
How Much Is the Average Medical Malpractice Settlement?
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “How much is the average medical malpractice settlement?” understanding the factors that influence settlement amounts is key.
If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, seeking legal advice is the first step in pursuing the compensation you deserve. At Heenan & Cook, our medical malpractice attorneys are here to simplify the legal process and help you navigate your path to justice. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.