If you are a medical malpractice plaintiff, you want to know how much your case is worth and you want an estimate of its potential trial and settlement value.
This article is about how malpractice insurance companies, judges, juries, and lawyers value medical malpractice lawsuits. Our medical malpractice lawyers give you real information to help you better understand the range of potential payouts you might receive in a verdict or settlement if you are suing for malpractice.
The first step to understanding the settlement amount of your malpractice case is to look at comparable cases.
We cover virtually every possible malpractice case below and have updated most of these pages in 2024:
Birth Injury Malpractice Cases
- Settlement Value of Birth Injury Cases
- Brachial plexus
- Bradycardia and Fetal Distress
- Brain bleeds
- Brain ischemia
- Caput succedaneum
- Cephalopelvic disproportion
- Cerebral palsy (video)
- C-Section – failure to perform (video)
- Erb’s Palsy
- Fetal heart monitoring errors
- Fetal macrosomia (video)
- Forceps errors (video)
- Herpes encephalitis
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR or FGR)
- Intraventricular hemorrhage (and subconjunctival hemorrhage)
- Meconium aspiration (video)
- Metabolic Acidosis
- Neonatal Stroke
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)
- Pitocin misuse (video)
- Placental abruption
- Uterine rupture (video)
- Vacuum misuse
- Wrongful Birth
General Medical Malpractice Cases
- Hospital Malpractice settlement value (video)
- Airway Management Settlement Value
- Allergist Malpractice Settlement Value
- Appendicitis Malpractice Settlement Value
- Aortic Aneurysm Settlement Value
- Aortic Dissection Malpractice Settlement Value
- Anesthesia Malpractice Settlement Value
- Blood Vessel Injury Settlement Value
- Bowel Perforation Settlement Value
- Urinary Tract Infection Malpractice Settlement Valuet
- Pediatric Malpractice Settlement Value
- Psychiatry Malpractice Settlement Value
- Pulmonary Embolism Settlement Value – (video)
- Radiologist Malpractice Settlement Value
- Sepsis Misdiagnosis Settlement Value
- Spinal Epidural Abscess Settlementalue (video)
- Stroke Misdiagnosis Settlement Value
- Surgery Malpractice Settlement Value
- Urologist Malpractice
- Wrongful Death Cases
- Brain Injury Malpractice Settlement Value
- Cut Nerve Malpractice Settlement Value
- Cauda Equina Syndrome Settlement Value
- Cardiologist Malpractice Settlement Value
- C-Diff Infection Malpractice Settlement Value
- Compartment Syndrome Settlement Value
- Dental Malpractice Settlement Value
- Dermatology Malpractice Settlement Value
- ENT Malpractice Settlement Value
- Epiglottitis Brain Injury Settlement Value
- Heart Arrhythmia Misdiagnosis Settlement Value
- Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Settlement Value
- Intubation Malpractice Settlement Value
- Medication Error Settlement Value
- Neurological Injury Settlement Value (and claims against neurosurgeons)
Failure to Diagnose Cancer Cases
- Cancer Misdiagnosis Settlement Value
Nursing Home Malpractice
Is There a Medical Malpractice Settlement Formula?
Victims of medical errors are entitled to damages. Because courts cannot undo the negligence, the only method they have to “fix” the negligence is to compensate the victim with money.
This helps the victim improve his or her life—sometimes, money is needed for future therapy, surgeries, or even adaptive equipment. Second, people who cause harm should have to pay compensation because, if they didn’t, there would be less of an incentive to avoid causing injury.
The average payout of a verdict or settlement in a medical malpractice claim nationally is approximately $242,000. (Miller & Zois’ average is easily more than triple this national average.)
But the average medical malpractice settlement is not very helpful. You want to know what your case is worth. How do lawyers, insurance companies, judges, and juries arrive at a money award or settlement in malpractice injury and wrongful death cases? Keep reading.
What Is the Average Compensation for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
As we said above, the average payout in a medical malpractice lawsuit in the U.S. is around $ 242,000. The median- as opposed to the average – value of a medical malpractice settlement is $250,000. The average jury verdict in malpractice cases won by the plaintiff is just over $1 million.
The compensation payouts in individual negligence cases will vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Our lawyers handle catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases nationwide. We are based in Maryland. Like most states, each Maryland county has different settlement dynamics from a settlement value perspective. Baltimore City and Prince George’s County are very favorable, Anne Arundel, Charles County, and Montgomery County are modestly favorable, and the rest of the counties, to varying degrees, are generally unfavorable to victims. This means to win in those jurisdictions, you have to have a very solid case.
Do Most Medical Malpractice Cases Settle Out-of-Court?
Around 90% of all medical malpractice cases end in some out-of-court settlement. Only 10% of medical malpractice cases are resolved by jury trial. For those cases that end up in a courtroom, the plaintiff only wins about 20% of the time. (This is not our experience. Miller & Zois has won many more malpractice cases than we have lost at trial.) This means that around three out of every four plaintiffs who file a medical malpractice case, end up getting money.
How Long Does a Maryland Malpractice Lawsuit Take to Settle?
The average length of time between filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland and the time that the case is resolved (usually by out-of-court settlement) is 28 months. Most settlements occur after the discovery phase ends and before the trial is scheduled to start.
What Percentage Does the Lawyer Get for a Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. This means they receive a percentage of whatever money they recover on your behalf. A typical contingent fee percentage in a malpractice case is 33% if the case ends in settlement and 40% if the case goes to trial.
In addition to their percentage fee, the malpractice lawyer typically also gets to collect the expenses they laid out for the case when a medical malpractice is won. In medical mistake cases, the expenses can be $100,000 or more because of all the expert witnesses, although the average is far less.
Malpractice Settlement Formula
The formula to determine how much money (value) to provide to a victim of medical negligence or the victim’s family in a wrongful death/survival action claim is this:
Value = Economic Damages (past & future) + Noneconomic Damages (past & future)
That is the payout that a jury assigns to your verdict. If you are calculating settlement value, you have to consider the possibility that a jury might find against you. So, you multiply the value by your chances of success at trial.
Of course, the difficulty is figuring out what numbers to use in the formula. That is the challenge.
You may be compensated for your existing expenses and losses as well as those you expect to have in the future
Economic damages are calculated with near-exact certainty. Items included in noneconomic damages are:
- Past and future medical and therapeutic expenses, including surgeries
- Past and future lost wages
- Past and future adaptive devices like prosthetic limbs, medical devices,
- Past and future medication
Items of past damages are the easiest to calculate because there are bills or receipts. For items of damage in the future, it is more difficult because no one can be sure of the future. New technology or advances in medical techniques may make planned surgery obsolete. Healthcare costs may skyrocket above inflation, making these costs more expensive.
In catastrophic injury cases, the best medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland hire an economist to determine the present-day value and the real value of a lifetime of care.
Noneconomic damages cannot be precisely calculated. Maryland allows noneconomic damages for harm such as past and future pain, suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and inconvenience. It is very tough to know how any particular judge, jury, defense lawyer, or insurance adjuster will value noneconomic damages. Lawyers should look to recent settlements and verdicts for similar types of cases for guidance (provided above) and consider any cap on noneconomic damages.
One important component in Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits is the damage cap. Maryland, for example, limits the amount of money that a victim of healthcare negligence can receive for noneconomic damages. A plaintiff can receive any amount of proven economic damages. So there is no cap on hard costs.
But judges will reduce a jury’s verdict for noneconomic damages to the maximum amount allowable by law. The amount of noneconomic damages recoverable is determined based on the year of the negligence. Click here to see a chart on Maryland’s noneconomic damages cap. For negligence that occurred in 2024, the cap is $890,000.
The cap is a little different in a wrongful death case when medical negligence caused the death of the victim. In that situation, one or more people may bring a claim on the victim’s behalf and in their own right as wrongful death beneficiaries. The total cap for medical malpractice wrongful death cases occurring in 2024 is $$1,112,500.
Again, this cap just applies to noneconomic pain and suffering damages. There is no cap on economic damages such as past and future care, medical bills, and lost earnings.
As if damage caps weren’t enough, the government also limits damages against itself. Not just a limit on noneconomic damages, the following governmental entities have limits on all damages recovered in medical malpractice cases:
- Local governments (like Baltimore City or Prince George’s County): $400,000.00 per claim/$800,000.00 per occurrence
- Maryland state government: $200,000.00
- Federal government: applies the cap of the state where the cause of action arose
Maryland has a collateral source rule. This means that even if a victim received services or benefits, he could still recover the cost of those services. A good example is health insurance. If a doctor negligently performs a surgery that requires a second surgery, the victim’s health insurance may pay for that second surgery. However, in medical malpractice cases, there is an exception to this rule that limits the recovery to what the victim paid or will have to pay.
A Sliding Scale: Settlement v. Trial
A medical malpractice settlement value is different from the trial value of a case. That’s because a settlement is a compromise—each side gives up something in exchange for the certainty of knowing what they will get or give up. No one can ever say what a judge or jury will do, so settlement is a way to play it safe. For this reason, the settlement value is almost always less than the trial value.
How to Calculate Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts
Calculating medical malpractice settlement amounts is a complex and multifaceted process that involves numerous factors. It is hard, and it is undoubtedly an art, not a science. Reasonable minds can differ on the appropriate settlement amount in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Settlements in malpractice cases are typically reached close to trial. Why? Neither side – we are equally to blame – get serious about the weaknesses of their case until a trial date looms.
Here is an extensive overview of the factors and considerations that influence how lawyers, hospitals, and insurance companies calculate medical malpractice settlement payouts.
Can You Win?
It all starts here. If you cannot win your case, the value is zero. The question is, have you marshaled enough evidence to get to a jury to seriously consider finding the doctor or other healthcare provider made a mistake that caused these injuries or wrongful death?
Extent of Injury
The severity of the patient’s injuries plays a pivotal role in determining the settlement amount. More severe injuries that result in long-term disability, ongoing medical treatment, or a reduced quality of life generally lead to larger settlements. This includes considerations such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress.
What is the average payout for medical negligence resulting in death? The settlement amounts or jury payouts are driven by whether your state has a cap on noneconomic damages in a medical negligence suit. The national average is useless to you without the context
Past and Future Medical Expenses
Hard economic loss is a significant component of a settlement is the compensation for medical expenses incurred as a result of the malpractice. This includes all past medical bills related to the injury as well as estimates for future medical costs, including surgeries, therapy, medications, and assistive devices.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
If the patient’s injuries prevent them from working or result in diminished earning capacity, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, future income, and even loss of potential career advancements.
Expert witnesses get paid a lot of money. You get someone to say almost anything these days. Do you have someone credible who comes off as an honest broker of what happened who can also explain it simply to a jury? If you have that, you are on a path that can lead to a fair payout from the jury.
The defendant’s insurance policy limits can cap the maximum amount available for a settlement. Too many doctors have $1 million policies in malpractice lawsuits where the damages far exceed that amount.
Patient’s Age and Life Expectancy
The age and life expectancy of the patient can influence the medical negligence settlement amounts. Younger patients with longer life expectancies may be entitled to more significant compensation for future losses.
Particularly where settlement is concerned, the quality of the attorney can make a difference. Insurance companies and defense lawyers have a running list of lawyers and their success rates. If it is a lawyer or a law firm that regularly takes cases to trial that will not accept lowball offers, there is a good chance that settlement offers will be higher.
On the other hand, if the insurance company is up against a lawyer who has only gone to trial a handful of times, they factor this into the settlement equation. The hospitals and insurance companies know that those lawyers are afraid of trial. They believe, with good reason, that these attorneys are more likely to sell the case short (whether consciously or subconsciously).
If you are hiring a lawyer, ask how many large physician malpractice verdicts his firm has. It is a little bit uncomfortable because you will feel like you are cross-examining the lawyer on his or her experience. Do it anyway. You only have one case, so you want to measure twice and cut once.
The take-home message: hire the best medical malpractice lawyer in Maryland with a proven track record – a proven record of big malpractice verdicts is key – sends a message.
Venue of Case
The location of a case makes a huge difference in the case’s value. Again, in Maryland for example, Baltimore City and Prince George’s County jurors are different from, say, Carroll County or even Baltimore County jurors. There are certain patterns and general qualities attributed (whether rightfully or wrongfully) to each geographic region.
This perception is reality. Lawyers and malpractice adjusters will place different settlement values on cases based on what they think the relevant jury might do with the case.
To see our analysis of each Maryland jurisdiction, visit this page. This is critical to understanding case values in the Baltimore-Washington area. Our state has very wild fluctuations in value for the same facts and the same injuries based on where the case would ultimately go to trial. In every state we have a malpractice case, job one is figuring out where we can file a malpractice and where we should file suit.
Quality of Plaintiff and Defendant
The jury will evaluate the plaintiff and defendant to determine whether they are believable or should be discounted. To some degree, this is a snap judgment—will the jury like or dislike the plaintiff and defendant? The more likable one side is, the more likely that side will receive a favorable or higher verdict.
Getting Help from a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice or to get more information on the value of your medical negligence claim, contact our lawyers at (800) 553-8082 or online for a free consultation.
Our medical malpractice attorneys handle cases involving birth injuries, hospital malpractice, ER malpractice, misdiagnosis of cancer cases, and other medical errors. If you are looking for real answers, give us a call.
(If you have a claim outside of Maryland, call us. Give us a call. We can help you. We work with the best medical malpractice lawsuits in your state to give you two lawyers for the price of one.)