Medical Malpractice 'Super Losses' On the Rise

Posted By Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci || 22-Dec-2014

Sometimes when people see a headline about a medical malpractice case in which the victim of a doctor’s negligence receives substantial compensation, they think it’s like the victim won the lottery. The problem with this line of thinking is that it overlooks the fact that victims of medical malpractice have been injured by a doctor. That means that the higher the compensation they received, the more extensive the damage they suffered.

Medical malpractice insurers have yet another way of looking at these cases. When compensation to the victim totals $5 million or more, the cases are called by insurers “super losses,” says an insurance industry publication. According to a report by one insurer, these “super losses” are on the rise.

Insurance company Hiscox says that about a decade ago, only 7.5 percent to 10 percent of the total dollars it paid out in malpractice claims were from claims of $5 million and more. Today, about 15 percent to 25 percent of the total dollars paid out are due to “super losses.”

“We suspected that the prevalence of high verdict amounts was growing, so we thought we’d have a closer look,” said a Hiscox vice president of underwriting. When the company researched the suspicion, they found “a definite creep in severity in the $5 million to $10 million band.”

As our Joplin readers might know, the Missouri Department of Insurance has over the past decade documented a drop in the number of claimants, pending cases and new reported malpractice claims.

On its website, the department noted that in 2013, “claims remain at levels well below historical averages.”

The insurance industry publication says the insurance company VP blames the “growing litigiousness of Americans” for the rise in “super losses,” even though the number of malpractice suits has fallen dramatically in Missouri and elsewhere.

Even when the number of claims are down, insurers complain that the percentage of dollars paid out in large claims has climbed.

Apparently insurers would prefer that no victims of doctor negligence would find experienced attorneys who can help them seek compensation and justice for the injuries they receive.

Source: Inside Business America, "Medical malpractice 'super losses' on the rise," Calin Bronson, Dec. 16, 2014

Categories: Medical Malpractice