What Does It Mean When Medical Malpractice Filings Are Down, But Insurance Company Profits Are Up?
It's a common myth that medical malpractice suits are frequent and frivolous, with lawyers taking advantage of opportunities to sue doctors or hospitals for bad results. This could not be further from the truth, and is evidenced in a recent study highlighted by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association which found that the total number of medical malpractice cases in Illinois has steadily declined over the past 10 years, dropping a significant 40 percent since 2003.
Not only are medical malpractice filings decreasing, but the total number of Illinois civil cases has also declined by 26 percent since 2007. While at first glance this might seem like a sign of improvements in medical care, the study also found that the state's largest medical malpractice insurer had record profits in 2013, up nearly 40 percent from 2012. When medical malpractice suits are down, but insurance company profits are up, there is cause for concern. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, medical malpractice insurance gives insurance companies twice the return compared to casualty or property insurance.
What is driving these numbers?
While the medical liability industry goes through cycles, the recent period of fewer claims and boosted insurance profits has lasted longer than normal. This is due to a variety of factors including:
- State-based award caps
- Rising costs of pursuing lawsuits
- Strict risk-management policies by hospitals and doctors
Physicians and hospitals are benefiting with reduced premium rates and substantial dividends. Experts like Joanne Doroshow, from the Center for Justice & Democracy, claim that this "boom" period was pre-planned when insurance companies intentionally over-reserved money to pay for non-existent claims, spurring a "crisis" environment that allowed them to raise rates and enact reforms that hurt patients.
How we can help.
Lipkin & Higgins understands that no matter what the medical malpractice market looks like, when mistakes are made that cause patient injury or death, those responsible must be held accountable. In these types of legal situations, the victim should come first and receive the compensation they deserve.
Don't be intimidated by insurance companies reaping record profits if you've been the victim of medical negligence or malpractice. Contact an experienced Lipkin & Higgins lawyer today to schedule your free consultation in our Chicago office and get started seeking the justice you deserve.