Medical malpractice 'super losses' on the rise

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

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