Why Doctors Have the Advantage in Medical Malpractice Trials

I found the following post on the Atlanta Injury Law & Civil Litigation Blog which makes reference to a report published in the May issue of the Michigan Law Review about how, and why doctors have the advantate in medical malpractice trials.  Here is the post:

A report which will be published in May in the Michigan Law Review.confirms what most tort law practitioners have long recognized: the defense has a strong advantage in medical malpractice trials.

Philip Peters Jr., of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, concluded that juries treat doctors favorably, "perhaps unfairly so," and are more likely than even fellow physicians to defer to a doctor’s opinion. Peters found that most malpractice suits end in defense verdicts, and that the cases that go to trial tend to be the weakest ones, since those with strong evidence usually settle before trial.In an examination of win rates, Peters found that 27 percent to 30 percent of filed medical malpractice suits end in a plaintiff’s verdict, the lowest success rate of any type of tort litigation.

In the study, jurors found in favor of physicians significantly more often than independent reviewing physicians would have.  The study asked independent physicians to evaluate incoming claims and rate them as defensible, indefensible or unclear. Plaintiffs won 21 percent of those cases rated as defensible, 30 percent of those rated unclear and 42 percent of those rated indefensible. Thus, plaintiff wins were in the minority even in the most meritorious cases.