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Myth – People Get Millions in Personal Injury Settlements

January 17, 2022

There’s a perception or a myth out there that every personal injury lawsuit results in a multi-million-dollar verdict for the plaintiff. However, that’s far from the truth. Maybe it’s because we hear about all these lawsuits …

Couple Sues City of Chandler for $19 Million after Sustaining Serious Injuries
Injured Workers File $10 Million Lawsuit against ExxonMobil After Refinery Explosion
Married Couple Sue Owners of Bronx Blaze Building for $600 Million
Family of Athlete Attacked at Party Sues Parents for $50 Million

There are thousands of lawsuits filed every day seeking millions of dollars in damages. But it’s a myth that all these people walk away with million-dollar verdicts or settlements.

What Do the Statistics Say About Personal Injury Cases?

However, statistics show that about 5% of personal injury cases go to trial, and the other 95% are settled prior to trial. Roughly, 90% of cases that do go to trial end up losing. And the U.S. Department of Justice found that, in cases that went to trial, half of all plaintiffs received no more than $24,000, and the median award is $31,000 for all cases.

It’s rare that a plaintiff receives a large verdict as a result of pain and suffering. In 2018, the average payout for a medical malpractice claim was less that $350,000. Another study has reported that, over the past 40 years, the value of these awards hasn’t risen with the value of real income.

Medical Malpractice Statistics

In addition, fewer than 1% of medical malpractice claims result in awards of $1 million or higher (and these are for lawsuits where the victim suffers extremely serious or fatal injuries). In fact, most victims are compensated only for their medical bills. Some others are also compensated for other monetary damages, such as lost wages.

The National Institute of Health reports that physicians win 80% to 90% of the jury trials with weak evidence of medical negligence, about 70% of the borderline cases, and even 50% of the trials in cases with strong evidence of medical negligence. The two decades of social science research also showed that between 80% and 90% of the claims rated as defensible are dropped or dismissed without any payment, and the amount paid in a settlement decreases as the strength of the patient’s evidence weakens.

Also, a relatively small number of doctors are responsible for the majority of the malpractice claims that are brought by plaintiffs, with half the malpractice claims in the United States filed against just 4.8% of the doctors, and 27.5% are filed against just 1.7% of physicians. And the most common reasons for medical malpractice cases are from the following medical treatments and practices:

  • Diagnostic errors;
  • Mistakes made in surgery;
  • Poor monitoring of patients; and
  • Management of medical conditions that result in injury, illness, or death.

Michigan Medical Malpractice Statistics

Payouts in Michigan for medical malpractice have dropped by 11% since 2017. Also, in Michigan, an upper limit is imposed on non-economic damages (damages for pain and suffering because of medical negligence. There’s a higher cap for cases involving paralysis due to brain or spinal cord injury, impairment of cognitive capacity, or loss of reproductive ability). Any jury award in more than the caps is reduced by the court.

In addition, the majority of requests for malpractice representation are rejected by lawyers. Research shows that medical malpractice attorneys typically reject between 80-97% of the requests they get for malpractice representation. As such, it’s much more likely for a Michigan personal injury attorney to reject a request for representation than to accept it when it comes to medical malpractice cases. As a rule, personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys are very selective about the cases they take. They want to use their efforts and resources in cases where there is a strong possibility of recovery for the victim.

So, as you can see, while a couple may sue a city for $19 million, the odds of them seeing anything close to that amount from a trial or settlement are very low.

Contact Us

For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Grand Rapids, contact Buchanan Firm. We can discuss your situation if you believe you’ve been seriously injured as the result of a medical mistake.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.