What are Medical Malpractice Settlements?

The Basics

Medical malpractice settlements involve cases in which medical negligence causes the harm or wrongful death of a patient under physician care. The circumstances surrounding medical malpractice claims can vary greatly between cases, but most instances include some form of inadequate or incorrect treatment, misdiagnosis, or errors in the rehabilitation and recovery period.1

In addition to those listed above, the most common forms of medical negligence include:

  • Premature Hospital Discharges
  • Unnecessary Surgical Procedures
  • Failing to Identify Symptoms
  • Prescribing Improper Medication
  • Surgical Mistakes
  • Prescribing Excessive Dosage
  • Ignoring Medical History of Patient
  • Misinterpreting Lab Results

Fulfilling the Burden of Proof

Before any medical malpractice claim can be heard by a judge, the injured party must be able to prove the following:

Established Doctor-Patient Relationship
First, the patient must be able to prove that they were being treated by the doctor directly. That means that they visited the doctor for a scheduled appointment which was NOT considered a consultation. Consultations are exempt from scrutiny of negligence due to the lack of treatment options which can come from a consultation.2

Negligence Did Occur
Additionally, for a case to be valid there must be proof that the doctor engaged in negligent behavior. Whether that involves prescribing incorrect medication, botching a surgery, or failing to offer a correct diagnosis, there needs to be significant evidence that malpractice occurred.2

Harm Was Caused by Malpractice
Not only do patients need to prove the fact that a doctor was negligent, but they must also have evidence that injury occurred as a result of the actions of the physician. This usually involves consulting with an additional medical professional to confirm that the injury was a direct result of the doctor’s incompetence.2

Damages are in Order
The patient must also prove that the negligence resulted in significant physical, mental, emotional, or financial harm. The damages must be overtly apparent for a case to be considered medical malpractice. If a claim lacks proof that the harm done is serious, the case may not be looked at by a judge.2  

Potential Settlement Outcomes

In almost any case, medical malpractice settlements begin with negotiations outside of court. Here, the doctor and lawyers representing the insurance company will discuss potential settlement options with the plaintiff (you) and your lawyer. More often than not, the case will settle without ever needing to go to court. However, before that can happen, the physician in question must sign off on the terms of the settlement. Sometimes, a settlement cannot be reached and the case will move to a formal court setting.

If your case does go to court, it will be heard by a judge and/or a jury who will weigh the evidence and issue a ruling either awarding compensation to the plaintiff or finding in favor of the defendant.3

Medical Malpractice Settlement Payout

If the court determines that you are owed compensation, there are generally two ways to receive your money. One way is to take the reimbursement as a one-time payment, where you receive the full settlement amount all at once. On the other hand, you can elect to receive your money in the form of a structured settlement. This will provide you with payments that are parceled out over a designated amount of time. Structured settlements are a popular option for those who expect to see continued expenses due to the long-term effect of their injury.

However, once you decide to go with a structured settlement, not much can be done to reverse that decision. Luckily, J.G. Wentworth has years of experience buying medical malpractice settlement payments in exchange for a lump sum. This way, you can choose to sell off a portion or all of your payments to give yourself the financial comfort you need. We offer a range of options so that you can find an option to suit your needs.

For any further questions or to get a free quote in just minutes, call J.G. Wentworth or fill out our simple online contact form today!

The above is some basic information on the topics, and is not a complete guide. J.G. Wentworth is a purchaser of assets and does not provide legal, tax, or financial advice. Please contact independent professionals for legal, tax and/or financial advice.
  1.  http://www.abpla.org/what-is-malpractice#medical
  2.  http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/medical-malpractice/patients-burden-proof-lawsuit.html
  3.  http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/medical-malpractice/how-settlements-work.html

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