Attorneys for both injured plaintiffs and defendant healthcare providers consider a myriad of factors before recommending a medical malpractice settlement to their client.
The patient must first be able to show negligence on the part of the provider (e.g., doctor, nurse or hospital) which resulted in damages to the patient. The likelihood of a settlement payment and the size of any payment are correlated with the strength of the patient’s evidence alleging negligence. As expected, the amount paid in settlement drops as the strength of the patient’s evidence weakens.
Attorneys on both sides will have the case strengths and weaknesses reviewed by medical experts. The qualifications and experience of the expert witnesses will be assessed by the attorneys. An expert who presents well at deposition and who can articulate a well-reasoned theory of medical negligence may greatly increase the settlement value. Settlement values also increase when the patient is particularly likeable with a sympathetic story.
Defense attorneys prefer to keep this type of plaintiff from a jury. Assuming the liability of the health provider can be shown with credible evidence, attorneys turn their attention to the damages of the patient.
Under North Carolina law, a plaintiff may recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include primarily medical expenses and loss of earnings. Non-economic damages may include pain and suffering, scars or disfigurement, loss of use of part of the body, loss of consortium, permanent injury, and inconvenience. Those cases with higher medical costs and negligence resulting in permanent injuries typically resolve at higher amounts. The age and income of the patient are also important in deciding settlement value. There is no set formula to determine a medical malpractice settlement and every case is different. These are complicated matters which typically take years to resolve, and require an experienced law firm to guide patients through the legal process.