Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Increase Insurance Premiums?

Posted Friday, October 11, 2019 by Chris Thayer

Sadly, like just about everything in public discourse today, the issue of rising insurance premiums is the source of much heated debate. On one hand, healthcare organizations and physicians’ groups frequently decry malpractice lawsuits as driving up premiums and sending doctors packing out of Washington State. On the other hand, consumer watch groups and other research-based entities have repeatedly debunked these myths. Ultimately, the answers are quite straightforward and easy to find.

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys who work in the industry everyday understand that bad medical care happens all too often. Doctors misdiagnose, injure, and sometimes kill their patients, yet more often than not, they face little if any consequences from the medical boards. Consider a few important statistics and facts about this issue.

*Understanding Insurance Generally* Before someone can really debate the issue of insurance premiums and malpractice lawsuits, first they need to understand how insurance actually works. Insurance companies purchase risk. It is legalized gambling. The insurance company is trying to figure out how likely a particular doctor or hospital will be sued and, if they are, what the likely annual cost of those lawsuits will be. So, if there are more lawsuits, the costs will be higher. If there are more costs to pay out, then yes, premiums are going up. But this only tells part of the story. It explains how the premiums go up, but it does not explain why there are more claims and lawsuits.

*Malpractice Statistics* A while back in 2005 during heated tort reform debates, the watchdog group Public Citizen released a detailed analysis of some of the problems with blaming patients for physician errors. In their report, they explained that the real problem may actually be repeat offenders, as they called them. These are doctors and other healthcare providers who repeatedly are sued and have high-cost claims, yet they go undisciplined by any review boards. They even outlined numerous examples of doctors who have had upwards of four or five clear acts of malpractice resulting in millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts in the span of only a few years, yet these same doctors went undisciplined. This means they keep practicing and keep hurting people.

*Third Leading Cause of Death in America* What is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.? bet you did not guess medical errors? A recent Johns Hopkins study revealed that this is actually true. The research showed that over 250,000 people in this country die annually as a direct result of medical errors and malpractice. Some surveys have suggested numbers as high as 440,000 per year.

Either way, when medical mistakes are mounting at an alarming rate and people are being disfigured, permanently injured, and even killed due to poor medical care, then yes, doctors and hospitals will be sued more. The real question is, should society blame the innocent patient who suffered, their family who must live with the trauma, the health insurance companies that must foot the bill to treat injuries, or the negligent healthcare professional?

For those suffering from serious or fatal medical errors in Washington State, turn to Pivotal Law Group for compassionate and skilled guidance. For a free consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys, call or visit us online today.