One myth of medical malpractice is that doctors pay for the costs out of pocket, and thus are ruined by a large case against them.
This isn’t exactly true. Medical malpractice claims are typically handled by the insurance companies, which provide liability insurance to doctors. The larger the settlement for the injured person, the more the insurance company pays, not the doctor directly.
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However, doctors do pay a good bit out of pocket for the insurance coverage. Depending on their practice specialty and the risks involved, doctors usually pay tens of thousands of dollars a year on medical malpractice insurance, and in some cases more. This expense usually comes out of the doctor’s salary rather than from their employers. Hospitals also carry malpractice insurance.
If the doctor does make a serious error that causes long-term damage and medical expenses for a patient, their rates could become very difficult to sustain, and their practice would most certainly be affected. So in a way, their finances are very related to medical malpractice lawsuits, even if they’re not paying out of pocket.
Some states require medical malpractice insurance, but there are times when doctors are uninsured – or under-insured compared the high cost of the injury to the victim. In those cases, the personal assets of the doctor may come into play.
Unfortunately, perhaps an even bigger myth is that reforming medical malpractice laws will change these high rates.
That’s right – high insurance rates aren’t necessarily the result of lawsuits and settlement costs, and here’s why:
The settlements simply don’t cost that much.
The insurance companies set their own prices. And the fact is, they’re price-gauging to an extreme in some cases. It might be easy to assume these companies do the math of what the risk is for each doctor getting sued, and then set the amount at a reasonable rate from there. But in fact, they overcharge – by a lot.
Insurance premiums don’t just cover bottom line expenses at insurance companies. They get invested and/or placed into large, interest-earning accounts. They make the insurance company tons of money on the back of doctors. When the investments go bad, and stockholders start to complain, what do the insurance companies do? They raise the price of the insurance and cripple the doctors trying to get by.
The Job of a Medical Malpractice Attorney
As a medical malpractice attorney in Memphis, it’s not my job to traumatize or torture a well-meaning doctor with a trivial malpractice case. I know the insurance companies take a lot of money from them each year, and I know a lawsuit is a really big deal.
However, I’ve also seen people left with a lifetime of medical bills because of a major mistake, and in some cases wrongdoing – that wasn’t their fault.
It’s important to show concern for the cost of malpractice insurance, especially if it prevents doctors from treating patients well or doing risky procedures like brain surgery.
But it’s equally if not more important to make sure there are options available for people who lose their lives or their futures because of mistakes they didn’t cause. Hopefully, with compassion and discernment, justice can be done for both sides.
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If you think you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, we’d love to talk to you and see if we can help. You should be compensated for medical bills and other damages.