Fact is Not Fiction: Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers Console & Hollawell Peel Back the Curtain on Medical Malpractice Payments

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A new report released in September by the Center for Justice Democracy at New York Law School* shows empirical data suggesting that medical malpractice plaintiffs receive far less in compensation than the public generally believes. Bucks County personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr. believes the report, a full 70 pages, speaks to a much larger trend across the United States.

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State laws have also worked to limit the access malpractice victims have to the civil justice system, which has decreased the number of lawsuits.

A new report released in September by the Center for Justice Democracy at New York Law School* shows empirical data suggesting that medical malpractice plaintiffs receive far less in compensation than the public generally believes. The report, culled from data taken directly from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), states ‘death’ as the most frequent injury type of plaintiffs who successfully obtain compensation at trial. The median award for medical malpractice plaintiffs in state court and jury trials was $400,000, according to the DOJ’s figures. The award numbers don’t account for modifications after the fact, including judicial decisions to lower jury verdicts and successful appeals. Furthermore, the DOJ’s most recent data, as displayed by the Center for Justice Democracy*, shows plaintiffs received punitive damages, payments for pain and suffering, in only 1 percent of all successful medical malpractice cases. Bucks County personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr. believes the report, a full 70 pages, speaks to a much larger trend across the United States.

“Medical malpractice claims are very expensive for plaintiffs to bring,” said Console. “State laws have also worked to limit the access malpractice victims have to the civil justice system, which has decreased the number of lawsuits. Added fees and caps on noneconomic damages make it harder for people who’ve been hurt to retain counsel and obtain the compensation that their injuries really demand.”

Payment information acquired from the National Practitioner Data Bank (DPDB) appears to support Console’s opinion about declining medical malpractice lawsuits. According to the NPDB**, medical malpractice compensation shrunk to a record low in 2011. Of the 9,758 payments made during that year, more than 61 percent of payments compensated victims for serious permanent injuries, brain damage or death. Nearly 44 percent of all medical malpractice payments in 2011 were made in cases resulting in loss of life, quadriplegia, and injuries requiring lifelong care or brain damage. Proving negligence is at the core of any medical malpractice case. Console, whose firm of Berks County personal injury lawyers has been representing malpractice victims since 1994, doesn’t see many frivolous cases.

“Frivolous lawsuits are largely a myth when it comes to medical malpractice,” Console stated. “The expenses attorneys undertake to bring these suits are such that any cases have to have clear elements of negligence and proof of harm. Claims that make it in front of a judge or jury have real victims who’ve suffered greatly. These people may have lost everything, their livelihoods, simple pleasures, interactions with loved ones. They deserve compensation and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for these victims to have their day in court.”

The accumulated value of medical malpractice payments made on behalf of physicians in 2011 fell by 46.1 percent compared to 2000, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank**.
Richard P. Console Jr. is the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C. Since 1994, the firm has represented more than 5,000 clients across Pennsylvania obtaining $30 million in compensation for their injuries and related damages.    

** http://www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov/analysistool/crosstab/index.jsp?REP=MMPR&ROW=ST&COL=AMT&DOWNLOAD=&TAB=COUNT#results

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