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Malpractice Settlements

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What Is a Malpractice Settlement?

In personal injury law, a malpractice settlement can sometimes be reached in connection with a medical malpractice claim.  Rather than having a judge determine the amount to be paid for the victim’s injuries, the plaintiff and the defendant themselves will decide or “settle” upon the amount, and any other remedies for the injuries.  

This can happen either before the lawsuit actually begins, or later on after the case has progressed already. In any event, malpractice settlement is often looked upon as very favorable, as a medical malpractice lawsuit can be a complex process that lasts for a long time.  Settlement can also happen for other types of malpractice, such as dental malpractice, attorney malpractice, etc. 

What Are the Reasons for a Malpractice Settlement?

Many persons choose malpractice settlement rather than litigation due to reasons like:

  • It can save time and money on the court process
  • It can often lead to a more accurate monetary damages award, since the parties themselves will be agreeing upon the amount
  • Settlement may become necessary, for instance if certain facts arise during the course of litigation
  • It can help a party avoid having a record of legal liability (although there may be a record of the settlement)
  • It can help preserve a working relationship between the patient and health care professional

On the other hand, personal injury settlements may not always be a viable option, especially if the parties are unwilling to reach an agreement on the facts or on the amounts being discussed.  In such cases litigation can help resolve any factual disputes or disputes involving medical malpractice laws.

Why Is the Limit for a Medical Malpractice Settlement?

One major issue to consider during a malpractice settlement is that many states place limits on malpractice awards. This means that during the settlement negotiations, the liable party is likely not going to make any offers above the legal limit amount. The victim should be aware of this, as this can limit the amount that they can receive in the settlement.

Also, another issue to consider is that there may actually be many different liable parties in any one malpractice claim. Thus, determining liability can be difficult; this is one reason why many parties opt for litigation rather than settlement, in order to sort out who is liable for which damages. If the parties are having difficulty discussing liability, they may seek recourse in court, where the opinion of an expert can be of help.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Malpractice Settlement?

Although settlement often occurs outside the formal court process, it is usually necessary to obtain a lawyer for help with the process. Your attorney can help you during negotiations so that you obtain the most favorable remedy for your malpractice injuries.  Also, your lawyer will be able to provide you with legal advice if you have any questions or concerns.

Photo of page author Chas Blackford

, LegalMatch Staff Writer

Last Modified: 03-31-2014 08:52 PM PDT

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