Jury Verdicts Against Doctors Skyrocketing

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Bu Matt Gracey

They are called “shock losses” but industry experts are no longer shocked, but rather in a state that I would best describe as numb. Juries around the country are awarding mind blowing amounts to patients suing their doctors in medical malpractice cases. Lawsuits that end in awards over $10,000,000 against doctors are becoming normal in America now. In 2014 such awards happened only seventeen times in the country, but that number jumped to forty one just three short years later after increasing steadily. With the final numbers yet to be realized for 2018, the year to date numbers for 2018 look sure to sharply increase again from the 2017 number of large awards.

This 193% of increase of awards over $10,000,000 against doctors cuts across many jurisdictions in the U.S. In Florida alone, there were four “shock losses” in 2017 totaling $85 million, but just in the first three quarters of 2018 there were already two large awards totaling $150,000,000! Yes, you can almost hear the insurance companies actively covering Florida’s doctors rushing for oxygen as they go into shock over this newest trend to befall doctors.  

We can only speculate on the causes but most agree that the juries themselves are numb to large numbers as our sports stars, celebrities, and politicians throw mind-bending numbers around like pennies. Some point to the lottery mentality of many patients if something goes wrong in their care, with so many thinking they can get rich quickly by capitalizing on a mistake or just a bad outcome in their care or one of their family members’ care.  

To connect the dots just a bit more, yes, the rates for malpractice insurance will be increasing because of this troubling claims trend. In Florida most of the prominent medical malpractice insurers are now losing about 25 to 35 cents on every dollar of premium. Many smaller, financially fragile insurers are either folding or selling out, and some of the insurers are already raising rates and/or tightening their underwriting requirements. Buckle up for a wild market headed our way because until juries get back to some form of reality, these large verdicts will continue. Now is the time to get expert, independent advice to choose your malpractice insurer very wisely.