Medical malpractice settlements may carry conditions that are specific to New Bedford, Massachusetts or they may work the same way as any other settlement in a civil case. A medical malpractice settlement can be a little hard to obtain because of the state and insurance reporting requirements.
Just like any other settlement, you will need to negotiate an actual dollar amount of your settlement with the defendant based on the damages. In most cases, you will do this through your New Bedford medical malpractice lawyer.
It’s relatively easy to calculate economic damages because they are quantifiable, provable losses caused by the injuries claimed. Negotiations will be more focused on non-economic damages. Your idea of satisfactory compensation for things like pain and suffering will differ from that of the insurance company or the doctor. State law may also limit the award amount.
The state of Massachusetts limits the award amount for non-economic damages to $500, 000. However, this cap might not apply if it’s proven that the injuries you suffered caused permanent disfigurement or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function.
You Need the Doctor’s Approval
The doctor has to approve the medical malpractice settlement, which isn’t usually the case for personal injury claims. For instance, in a slip and fall case, the defendant’s insurance company will usually settle the case whether the defendant wants to or not. The policy clearly states who has the final say. As for medical malpractice cases, the doctor will have the final say as to whether the settlement should be paid out or not.
You can easily track medical malpractice settlements through state reporting repositories and several databases. This means that unlike other types of lawsuits, medical malpractice lawsuits aren’t confidential and this has a direct and dire effect on the cost of a health practitioner’s malpractice insurance.
This is why you’ll find some doctors are more than willing to go to trial rather than risk being dropped by their insurance carrier or end up paying grossly inflated insurance premiums. Additionally, many doctors refuse to admit that they committed malpractice and will try as much as possible to prevent you from recovering anything.
Certain insurance companies might also have “unofficial” policies that favor taking cases to trial as opposed to settling. They do this to promote the perception of being hardliners and also as a way to discourage litigation against their insureds.
If your negotiations have finished and both the insurance carrier and the doctor have agreed to pay the settlement amount, it’s very important that you obtain court approval especially if your case involves a minor. This is to avoid giving defendants and lawyers a quick payout at the expense of catering to your long term financial needs.
Depending on the plaintiff’s age, the laws of their jurisdiction and the nature of their injuries, settlements can be paid in a structured settlement, a lump sum or a combination of the two.
If the plaintiff is a minor, the court will issue out structured settlements that will cover their current medical expenses. Once the minor reaches 18, they will receive a payout.
Some states also prefer to pay a lump sum amount instead of paying for future medical care over an extended period of time. Some will prefer to make structured settlements, which are easily monitored. You should consult with your New Bedford medical malpractice lawyer so that they can tell you which type of payment you will be entitled to.
Your settlement check will be sent to your attorney. Since most medical malpractice lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, they usually collect the check themselves or they risk not being paid for their services. Once your attorney deducts their attorney fees and case expenses, you will receive the money that remains. If you feel like the attorney deducted too much or you would like to contest the fees that he is deducting from your settlement amount, they will deposit the disputed amount in a trust account and then give you the rest of the settlement amount. Once your dispute is resolved, you will receive whatever amount you agree on with your attorney.
Get Guidance from a New Bedford Medical Malpractice Attorney
Are you having trouble with your medical malpractice case? We can help. Call one of our medical malpractice attorneys from Kevin P Landry Law Offices at 508-999-0800 or visit our New Bedford offices today for a free initial consultation.