May 2, 2014, the Columbus Dispatch reported that a mere 2,733 medical malpractice claims were filed in Ohio in 2012 despite the fact that negligence is the third leading cause of death in this country, according to Forbes. Only 576 claimants were awarded money for damages, which means 4 out of 5 injured people were forced to pay both physically and financially for someone else’s careless mistake.
Though the Ohio Department of Insurance’s yearly report estimated that each of the victims who won their lawsuit were given an average of $307,852 to pay hospital bills and other expenses, the Dispatch said central Ohioans actually averaged $224,320, and people in the southwestern quadrant were awarded around $219,744.
The number of lawsuits has declined each year since Ohio began keeping track in 2005, per Insurance Journal. That year, 5,051 claims were filed against doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare providers. Six years later, that number fell to 3,100, said Biz Journals.
Why Are So Few Injured People Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Ohio made it more difficult to sue for medical malpractice when Senate Bill 281, known as tort reform, was enacted in April 2003, as Cincinnati Business Courier has stated. Not only did the government limit the amount an injured person could be awarded for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, “it also made lawsuits harder to file by enacting a one-year statute of limitations – one of the shortest in the nation.”
Several states have ruled that tort reform amounts to jury tampering. For instance, in 2012, Huffington Post reported that a boy who suffered a debilitating brain injury at birth will need around-the-clock care from his mother, who’s also a widow, for the rest of his life. The jury awarded them $1.45 million for non-economic damages and $3.37 million for future medical expenses. Due to tort reform, state law reduced those non-economic damages to $350,000. It also divided the $3.37 million into two sums, one of which will be paid in annual installments over 50 years.
Luckily, little Naython and his mom live in one of the states in which tort reform was struck down as unconstitutional, so they will get what the jury determined they deserve. In 33 other states, including Ohio, a birth injury lawsuit would be subject to the earlier mentioned cap on non-economic damages.
So How Does the Recent News About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Being on the Decline Affect Me?
As one attorney told the Cincinnati Business Courier, “(The law) has had the intended consequence of making it extremely difficult and extremely expensive for any one individual to pursue a medical malpractice claim and succeed.”
Even a lawyer who defends big companies and supports tort reform told WOSU that there should probably be an exception to Ohio’s cap on non-economic damages. He just doesn’t know how the state would go about it.
With that in mind, you need to know that if you’ve been injured as a result of negligence such as an amputation mistake, anesthesia overdose, or other surgical error, you will need excellent legal representation in order to win your case. As Chris Mellino states in his free guide, insurance companies that insure doctors and hospitals know how to battle a claim like yours, and they will hire as many experts as necessary in order to defend what happened. Filing a lawsuit on your own could be a big mistake. Hiring an attorney you saw on TV, the side of a bus, or a billboard could also be a mistake, because those firms tend to treat clients as a number, pawn them off on a “case manager,” and settle the claim for the first amount the defendant offers, so they can pay for their next commercial to bring in even more clients.
Mellino Law Firm does not advertise. Attorneys and satisfied clients send us the majority of our cases. Others find us online. Since claims are labor intensive, we’re selective about those we accept. This enables us to give each claim the attention it deserves.