What Is the Average Settlement for Medical Malpractice?

The average medical malpractice settlement in 2018 was $348,065, according to the Medical Malpractice Report by the National Practitioner Data Bank. Collectively, plaintiffs received more than $4 billion in medical malpractice lawsuits—96.5 percent of medical malpractice cases end in settlements, while 3.5 percent result in court judgments.

The Most Common Complaints in Medical Malpractice Claims

The report also found that medical errors relating to diagnoses consisted of 34.1 percent of medical malpractice actions, which makes it the most common medical malpractice claim. While malpractice related to surgical procedures accounted for 21.4 percent of claims, malpractice associated with improper treatment accounted for 21.1 percent of all claims.

The statistics are consistent with the researchers’ past findings. One study about the medical malpractice lawsuit rates in the U.S. from 1992 to 2014 likewise found that surgical mistakes, treatment-related errors, and misdiagnoses are the top causes of medical malpractice claims.

As for damages, 12.3 percent of claims resulted in quadriplegia, brain damage, and other injuries requiring lifelong care, 18.7 percent resulted from catastrophic permanent injuries, and 29.7 percent resulted in fatalities.

Additionally, the average payouts for claims that resulted in death, which is approximately $380,300, weren’t as high as claims resulting in brain damage, which earned payouts of up to $960,000.

How Much Is My Medical Malpractice Claim Worth?

If you believe that you have a valid medical malpractice case, you are probably wondering about the potential value of your claim.

Lawyers typically categorize damages as:

  • Economic or special damages, which are based on calculable financial losses.
  • General, pain and suffering, or non-economic damages, which are not clearly calculable or based on bills or expenses.

In some cases, patients may also pursue punitive damages if the doctor’s actions were malicious or intentional or if the doctor knew or should’ve known that their actions would cause injury.

To be awarded damages through a claim of medical malpractice, you must prove the actual malpractice that occurred, such that:

  • Medical negligence on the part of a medical professional resulted in your damages
  • You cannot resolve the damages resulting from the malpractice by any other means
  • Your injuries didn’t exist before the malpractice incident

Is There a Medical Malpractice Settlement Formula?

There’s no universally agreed-upon formula to calculate medical malpractice settlements. Some law firms may advertise a sense of certainty regarding how much you can expect to receive for your medical malpractice claim by citing a settlement formula. While it may seem comforting to some to think that your damages can be neatly accommodated within a calculation determining your payout, there are many factors to consider when valuing these types of claims. Additionally, the total value of your damages will likely be different depending on who you ask; in a claim involving malpractice, insurance companies will likely offer an initial payout that is far below the true economic value of your damages, non-economic damages notwithstanding.

Determining Your Special Damages

The value of medical malpractice settlements is determined by the amount of damages. Special damages include:

  • Lost earnings
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Medical expenses and future medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Other quantifiable financial losses

Your medical expenses include all the bills that you have incurred due to your injuries and can include the cost you would reasonably incur if you require future medical treatment. Future medical bills are usually high in malpractice cases.

Your lost earnings and loss of earning capacity are earnings that you have lost or stand to lose due to the malpractice incident that led to your injuries. This includes employment benefits you lost, such as paid leaves, health insurance, pension contributions, retirement fund contributions, etc. Calculating your past lost wages is easy because you just add all the earnings and benefits you missed because of your injury.

On the other hand, calculating your future lost earnings and earning capacity will be more difficult. For this reason, your lawyer will need to enlist the help of a financial expert to accurately present these numbers in a way that the jury will understand. For example, let’s say that you were earning $50,000 yearly before the medical malpractice incident. However, you did not recover fully and could presently return to work part-time and only earn $25,000 per year.

This means that your estimated lost earning capacity is $25,000 yearly for the rest of your life, or more accurately, work-life expectancy. Put simply, work-life expectancy is a measurement based on federal statistics of the number of years a worker likely would continue working, depending on that worker’s age, race, and sex, among other factors. This might seem easy to calculate, but it becomes more complicated when you try to calculate what $25,000 yearly could be worth in the future.

Determining Your General Damages

As previously stated, general damages, also called non-economic damages, are not exactly easy to calculate. It’s just not possible for the jury to rely on a chart, for example, to see how much pain and suffering you experienced (or are still experiencing) because of your injuries. This is why judges typically instruct the jury to put themselves in the injured patient’s shoes and utilize their experience, background, and common sense when determining awards for pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering damages include both mental and physical pain and suffering, such as:

  • The pain of your actual physical injuries
  • The pain and suffering you’re experiencing from a significant permanent injury or disability, disfigurement, or scarring
  • Mental suffering and pain, including emotional distress, mental anguish, anger, fear, humiliation, loss of life enjoyment, and/or sleep disorders, among others
  • Loss of companionship or consortium

Mental pain and suffering can likewise include severe depression, extreme mood swings, aggressive anger, chronic fatigue, eating problems, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and PTSD.

Never shortchange yourself when it comes to intangible losses, as these are often a significant part of a medical malpractice settlement or award. Discuss all of the effects you felt from your injuries with your medical malpractice lawyer so they can properly present the associated losses to the insurance company to get you a fair settlement and, if not, help build a strong case for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Wrongful Death Settlements in Medical Malpractice Claims

When medical malpractice injuries lead to the unfortunate and untimely death of a patient, the surviving family members may have grounds to pursue a wrongful death claim. Such claims are particularly complex, emotionally charged, and come with their own set of considerations and potential compensations.

A wrongful death claim may arise when a patient dies due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of a healthcare provider. This could involve actions such as a failure to diagnose a lethal condition, errors during surgery, improper treatment, or prescribing incorrect medication.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The eligibility to file a wrongful death claim varies by state, but it usually includes immediate family members like spouses, children, and parents of unmarried children. In some cases, other relatives, such as siblings or grandparents, may be able to file a claim.

What Damages Can Be Claimed?

Damages in wrongful death cases involving medical negligence generally include the deceased’s medical expenses prior to death, funeral and burial costs, loss of the deceased’s expected earnings, loss of benefits, and loss of inheritance. Compensation for general damages may include compensation for the survivors’ mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of protection and guidance, and pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death.

In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if the healthcare provider’s conduct was particularly egregious.

Calculating a Wrongful Death Settlement

The calculation of wrongful death settlements is a complex process and depends on a multitude of factors, such as the age, health, and earning capacity of the deceased at the time of death, the survivors’ financial dependency on the deceased, the extent of negligence on the part of the healthcare provider, and more.

Navigating a wrongful death claim due to medical malpractice can be emotionally and legally challenging. Seeking assistance from a skilled attorney with experience in medical malpractice can help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your loss. Such a professional can provide guidance throughout the claim process, help establish negligence, quantify damages, and advocate on your behalf in negotiations or at trial if necessary.

Seeking Legal Help from a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A medical malpractice claim will require the legal guidance of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to prove why and how the malpractice occurred. Remember that the basis of all medical malpractice claims is whether the doctor deviated from the medical standard of care and, if yes, whether the doctor’s actions resulted in the patient’s injuries.

Likewise, while the doctor’s actions are dependent on the case’s particular circumstances, the primary issue when establishing whether the doctor’s actions were due to medical negligence is whether another doctor under the similar or same conditions would’ve done what your doctor did.

It’s difficult to know how much your case is worth based on the average medical malpractice settlement. All medical malpractice cases and the circumstances surrounding them are different. That’s why you should consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Never ignore your right to compensation from negligent doctors who caused you injuries.

July 1, 2023
Boohoff Icon

Free Consultation

We Are Here For You 24/7


“Boohoff Law definitely stands behind integrity. Tatiana is not only a fantastic attorney in her expertise, she’s also down-to-earth – truly a people person.”
– Elissa M.

“Really pleased with Boohoff Law! Received immediate responses when I had any questions. Treated amazingly by all staff … made this process a true breeze!”

– Caitlyn M.
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. They made me feel right at home.”
– Brandy K.

Related Posts

When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

As soon as you discover that someone’s negligence has caused you to suffer injuries or lose a loved one, it’s time to retain a Tampa personal injury attorney. As you will see below, there are serious risks in waiting to hire a lawyer. Therefore, any honest lawyer will tell you to meet with and hire […]

How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay for a Back Injury?

You may qualify for workers’ compensation if you suffered a back injury. But how much does workers’ comp pay for a back injury? The answer depends on various factors, and you need to understand how the workers’ compensation system works and the calculations it uses to determine your benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance […]

​How to Get the Most Money From a Car Accident

It can be expensive to recover from a serious car accident injury. An ambulance ride plus an emergency room visit can result in hefty medical bills for car accident victims. Some crash victims may have to spend weeks in the hospital. Other patients might need X-rays, pain medication, surgery, physical therapy, and follow-up visits with […]

Recovery is personal.

We recover millions for our clients every month, but we know that every case is different and that recovery is personal.
“Boohoff Law definitely stands behind integrity. Tatiana is not only a fantastic attorney in her expertise, she’s also down-to-earth – truly a people person.”
– Elissa M.
% star rating
“Really pleased with Boohoff Law! Received immediate responses when I had any questions. Treated amazingly by all staff … made this process a true breeze!”
– Caitlyn M.
5 star rating
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. They made me feel right at home.”
– Brandy K.

You're better off with Boohoff.