Justinian C. Lane, Esq.
Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens May Fall

Justinian Lane's Blog

Justinian's Blog

822 Paid Claims in a Year = A Malpractice Crisis?

I was surprised to read the following statistics in an article in the Naples Daily News:

A state-by-state examination of medical malpractice claims paid in 2006 shows that Florida’s average payout was lower than the national average, resurrecting the debate about the merits and pitfalls of tort reform that is expected to change the malpractice climate in the state...

Florida’s average claim payout, whether by settlement or jury verdict, was $241,800 last year while the national average was $308,600, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation...  [So why does Florida need damage caps? - Justinian]

Insurance companies paid a total of $198.7 million arising from 822 paid claims in Florida last year, according to Kaiser. That’s 14.7 claims paid for every 1,000 physicians in the state...

The numbers for Florida come as no surprise to Orlando trial attorney Scott McMillen, who points to a $500,000 cap on noneconomic damages approved by the state Legislature in 2003 after pressure by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

"The Legislature in Florida has been steadily chipping away the rights of Florida consumers," he said. "It is resulting in smaller settlements and more cases going to trial because the defendants have no fear. The insurance companies know the worst it will be is $500,000 — so why settle."...

Source: Fla. below national average in amount of paid medical malpractice claims

I don't see how 14 claims per 1,000 physicians, with an average payout of $241,800 can constitute a malpractice crisis.  Especially since Florida fares better in the study than many other states.  Seems to me that Florida malpractice insurers are gouging doctors and blaming lawyers.  Of course, that's old news.