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Two Myths About Medical Malpractice

GavelIn this country, medical errors are one of the leading causes of injury and death. However, many injured people do not bring suit against their doctors or hospitals, because they have been swayed by myths and falsehoods about the process. It is common to hear horror stories about inequality and unfairness that prevent the injured from getting their due; in reality, these stories are exaggerated in many respects. Research is paramount; doing your research will help you separate fact from fiction. Some of the most pervasive myths can be busted with very little time spent.

Myth: Malpractice claims are more frequent than they used to be, and most of them are frivolous.

False. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that the average number of medical malpractice filings per capita has decreased over the years. Building on that, Harvard studies have shown that only about one in eight patients injured by medical negligence ever files a claim, regardless of how injured they may be. It is reasonable to assume that if so few patients are even taking the time to file actual claims, a high proportion of them will be legitimate.

Proponents of tort reform in California also cite the win percentage for plaintiffs in medical malpractice as proof of the frivolity of their claims, but it is important to note that doctors’ cases against hospitals or insurers fare even worse - approximately 15 percent of such cases are successful. There is simply a high burden of proof required in medical malpractice cases, and the mere fact that not many are successful should not lead one to the conclusion that the case itself is frivolous or improper.

Myth: People ask for and get verdicts that are wildly unreasonable in terms of damages.

False, especially in California. While plaintiffs may file requesting damages in the millions or even billions, they normally do so when they or a loved one has been the victim of life-changing negligence. Medical care for the rest of one’s life is extremely expensive, and in this day and age, large verdicts almost never withstand appeal or post-trial review. Asking for more than one expects to get is arguably good advocacy.

Outlandish, large verdicts are also highly uncommon in California for the sheer reason that the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $250,000. Non-economic damages are granted by the intangible causes of action such as pain and suffering, and as such, can reach very high levels in states with no damage caps. In California, however, the cap has been in place since 1975.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

The medical malpractice system in California leaves many patients without adequate representation - if non-economic damages are capped and economic losses are low, attorneys will refuse to take a case, because they will likely not receive much of a fee. However, the dedicated San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. have a history as fighters. We offer free initial consultations, and are happy to point you in the right direction for your legal needs. Contact our offices today to discuss your options. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Alameda, Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.