Keeping Medical Malpractice Cases on Track with Lawsuit FundingSeptember 19, 2013
Medical malpractice happens. That’s a reality that we patients, and the medical profession, need to accept. Negligent medical care happens all over the country, all the time. Though medical malpractice “reform” debates come and go, the system we have is the system we have. For plaintiffs, it’s a system that’s time consuming and expensive. For many plaintiffs, financial assistance is the bridge that can get them from filing a lawsuit to reaching a positive outcome.
Some of the most common medical malpractice claims include wrongful death, surgical errors, wrong-site surgeries, birth injuries, medication errors, misdiagnoses, and emergency room errors. It is estimated that medical errors represent the third leading cause of death nationally. Studies have shown that at least 98,000 people die as a result of such errors each year. In Pennsylvania alone, in one year (2010), 1,491 medical malpractice cases were filed in the state court system.
In addition to tragic injuries or untimely deaths, the financial costs are heavy. The annual costs of medical malpractice are $29 billion, which comes in the form of health care expenses, lost income, lost household production, and other costs.
Though medical malpractice cases have come under scrutiny for the number of allegedly frivolous claims, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 found that 80 percent of the cases the authors reviewed involved a significant or major disability or death. The article also shows how long these cases can drag on. The average length of time between injury and receiving compensation was five years. These findings came from a review of 1,452 closed cases at five insurance companies.
Given the high costs of litigation and the fact that cases can drag on for years, many medical malpractice plaintiffs can be forced to the financial brink. If the plaintiff is supporting a family, or has no other person supporting them, and the injury results in a long-term job absence or job loss, litigation funding can be the difference between keeping a house or losing one in foreclosure. In addition, a job loss may also mean loss of medical benefits. If ongoing treatment is required for recovery, the plaintiff may have very limited options to pay for such treatment.
This downward financial spiral – started by injuries caused by medical malpractice – could force a plaintiff to withdraw the legal claim or accept a settlement offer far less than the amount the case is actually worth. Through no fault of their own, medical malpractice plaintiffs can find themselves in a financial bind while dealing with serious injuries caused by a negligent health care provider.
Financial assistance can be a critical tool for plaintiffs and their attorneys to use to improve the current situation and reach a fair and equitable outcome in the future. It can allow the plaintiff to pay the bills while also providing funding to keep a medical malpractice case on track.