Value of Malpractice Cases

A hospital leaves a 4-inch-long piece of plastic tubing inside an infant boy at birth. The child may have a permanent injury. What should the verdict be? How much is that medical malpractice lawsuit worth?

If a potential client called our law firm and asked that question, I would say I have absolutely no idea. There are just too many details you would need to know. To start, does it mean the child may have an injury? Do you know? If you don’t, what are the odds the injury is permanent? Another incredibly important question: was the child in pain and if so, for how long? What are the past and expected future medical bills? Why did this mistake happen? Who made it?

The first paragraph is a fact pattern of a case that was decided recently in Washington State. The jury awarded $257,000 in this malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.

I read this entire article. I still have no idea what the value of the case should be. What are the odds this child will suffer a permanent injury from this malpractice? How much pain was the child in and can it be linked to malpractice?

I’m always taken aback when a malpractice lawyer gives a 60 word summary and every lawyer in the room thinks they can tell you the value of the case. Valuing any personal injury lawsuit is hard and malpractice claims are even that much harder to value. Malpractice lawyers always blame the hospital or the doctor’s insurance company for not just putting fair value on the case from the beginning before long protracted discovery begins. Often, this is fair. But, sometimes, malpractice lawyers on both sides of the “v” need discovery to figure out the value, if any, of the malpractice lawsuit.