Medical malpractice settlements are generally private and therefore not reported. The amount of the settlement will reflect the risk of going to trial. These are civil lawsuits brought by patients against negligent care providers.

Settlements are paid to the patient by an insurance company. As a result, a release agreement must be signed. The settlement amount is usually confidential. As a result, you may not be able to tell other people that you won your case.

Hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses, therapists, physicians are required to carry professional liability insurance. These insurance companies hire lawyers to defend the healthcare providers. These lawyers therefore assess the value of the case and provide settlement advice to the insurance company.

There are several cases that consider the costs effect of offers to settle. Medical malpractice cases are complex and the risks can be unpredictable. Similarly, out of court settlements need to reflect the degree of risk required to win, or lose.

0-$10,000- The “Go Away” Offer

A settlement offer amount far below the value of the loss is called a “nuisance offer”. The lawyer for the doctor being sued may offer to settle after receiving helpful reports. A nuisance offer may therefore precede a summary judgment application to dismiss a claim.

In a successful wrongful birth case the father was awarded $10,000 for pain and suffering. His child was born with Down’s Syndrome. He was entitled to be compensated for the distress caused to him by her birth. However, he and his wife wife were 50% at fault not undergoing appropriate tests during the high risk pregnancy (Zhang et al v. Kan, 2003 BCSC 5).

$10,000-$100,000- Weighing Risks

Medical mistakes that results in financial loss may be the result of negligence. Weighing the risk of winning your case should factor into any offers to settle.

$22,000 was the settlement amount offered in our next case example . The claim was against a doctor for negligent delay. The delay was in completing life insurance forms. The claimant lost $22,000 from her husband’s estate as a result of the delay.

The jury found the doctor liable for the delay in completing the paperwork. The jury therefore awarded $22,000.00. The plaintiff beat her formal offer and as a result was entitled to double costs.(Schwabe v. Dr. Lisinski, 2005 BCSC 1284)

Lawyers for the doctor attended a settlement meeting but made no offers. They refused to engage in any meaningful settlement discussions. 

$100,000 +Plus- Admitted Malpractice

In our next case, liability was not in issue.  The doctors admitted the patient died as a result of a medication taken mistakenly. The lawsuit was brought by the husband and four surviving children under the Family Compensation Act .(Gaida v. McLeod, 2013 BCSC 1168)

The doctors claimed there was a binding settlement to settle all six claims for $440,000. The court found the claimant changed his mind shortly after he instructed his lawyer to accept the offer. A change of mind based on further law or facts is not sufficient to set aside a settlement . The judge enforced this medical malpractice settlement amount.

The last medical malpractice settlement amount we’ll review is for $6 million. That’s $6,000,000 plus taxable costs. The negligence was very obvious, however, the hospital and the Doctor proceeded unsuccessfully an appeal of liability(Pinch (Guardian ad litem of) v. Morwood, 2016 BCSC 1907).

The claimant served a formal offer to settle for $5,600,000 plus taxable costs four days before trial. The court did not award double costs for beating this offer. An offer to settle in a malpractice case should not be made only to attract double costs.

Concluding Remarks

Medical malpractice settlement amounts are as varied as the claims. Therefore, the amount of a settlement should always be based on weighing the admissible evidence. Learn more, check out making a medical malpractice claim.

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