The verdict is in on malpractice awards

August 1, 2004

Childbirth negligence cases had the highest median jury award in 2002 of all medical malpractice cases analyzed by Jury Verdict Research. Data in the annual "Current Award Trends in Personal Injury" showed that the median award for such negligence was $2,252,645. Moreover, plaintiffs won 60% of childbirth negligence cases in 2002, up from 55% in 2001 and 34% in 2000.

Between 1999 and 2002, medical malpractice cases accounted for 52% of jury awards of $1 million or more. Overall, the median award in malpractice cases was $1,010,858 in 2002, up slightly from the $1 million median award reported in 2001 and 2000.

The data also showed that, while physicians won the majority of malpractice cases, plaintiffs still won 42% of the time in 2002, up from 40% in 2001. While the 2-percentage-point increase seems slight, it actually means that plaintiffs won 5% more cases than they did in 2001.

"With the average cost of each loss more than $1 million, 5% is a significant increase," Richard E. Anderson, MD, chair of The Doctors Co., a physician-owned national medical liability insurer, told American Medical News (4/19/04).