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How Do Medical Malpractice Settlement Negotiations Work?

Published on Sep 9, 2022 at 5:01 pm in Medical Malpractice.

medical malpractice settlement document

When a doctor’s error leads to the furthering of an illness or the development of a new injury or health condition, victims are often left with few options for addressing their physical, financial, and emotional damages.

Medical malpractice claims are typically the most effective method for recovering compensation and holding at-fault physicians and medical establishments responsible for the actions that caused you harm. Understanding how medical malpractice settlement negotiations work will be key to the overall success of your claim.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you are seeking compensation from the doctor’s or hospital’s medical malpractice insurance provider. As part of this process, you will negotiate a settlement with an insurer that is doing everything within its power to limit liability and lowball your compensation.

To improve your negotiating power, it is in your best interest to hire a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney will be familiar with all the applicable state and federal laws that might apply to your case. Having an attorney on your side also signals to the insurance company that you mean business and will not accept anything less than you are owed.

Proving Negligence

Before you can negotiate a settlement, you must prove that some type of negligence occurred in your case. At Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, we help our clients prove the following:

The Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and your provider. This type of relationship is typically established when a patient seeks treatment, and a doctor agrees to provide care. You might have established a doctor-patient relationship when you:

  • Had an appointment with your primary care physician where you discussed your symptoms and received a diagnosis
  • Were referred to a specialist who provided care for your illness
  • Underwent surgery under the care and supervision of an anesthesiologist

The existence of such a doctor-patient relationship establishes a duty of care between you and your health care provider. This duty of care is a doctor’s legal obligation to provide treatment that aligns with the currently accepted standards for patients in similar circumstances.

As part of your medical malpractice lawsuit negotiations, you must prove that your doctor owed you a duty of care that they subsequently violated. Once you have established this critical fact, you can move on to negotiating the value of your claim.

Dealing With Insurance Adjusters

You will most likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster early on in your lawsuit. While this adjuster might seem friendly and ask ostensibly innocent questions, they are not on your side. Be wary of questions like “How are you doing today?” or “Would you mind providing a recorded statement?” These are professionals whose entire jobs entail getting information to lower your offer or deny liability altogether.

Instead of answering these questions, politely but firmly refer all communications to your attorney. Do not respond to additional questions even when pressed to do so. Tactics like this are a common part of the negotiations process, and you are not obligated to provide any statements that might limit a doctor’s liability in your case.

Negotiating the Value of Your Medical Malpractice Settlement

Even if the insurance company acknowledges that you were harmed as the result of a medical error, it is unlikely that they will offer you compensation sufficient to fully cover the damages associated with your illness or injury.

You must be prepared to prove the damages you have suffered because of your medical error. Most medical malpractice cases involve compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages, which are as follows.

Economic Damages

Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm does not believe that it is right for medical malpractice victims to shoulder the costs of recovery. Therefore, we work so hard to hold negligent medical providers and their insurers responsible for costs like:

  • Medical bills. Any expense you incur while seeking medical care for an injury or illness caused by a physician or health care provider should be fairly compensated. This includes both future and expected medical expenses.
  • Lost wages. Compensation for lost income or reduced earning capacity is possible if you are unable to work, can only return part-time, or must find a new job that is more compatible with your injuries.
  • Vocational rehabilitation. The cost of training for a new career path may be covered by your medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Home or vehicle accommodations. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need compensation to renovate your home or vehicle to accommodate a new condition or disability.
  • Domestic services. In-home help (including cleaning services) may be necessary if you are unable to care for your home or yourself.

Noneconomic Damages 

Unlike economic damages, noneconomic damages do not necessarily have a dollar value attached to them. Noneconomic damages are just as important and should not be overlooked during medical malpractice settlement negotiations. Examples of noneconomic damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma and mental anguish
  • Loss of society, companionship, or consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Inconvenience
  • Disfigurement

What Is My Medical Malpractice Settlement Worth?

Every medical malpractice case is different, with a variety of factors that must be considered and calculated before arriving at a settlement. Without first meeting with you, we cannot say with any certainty what you might be owed.

There are limitations in medical malpractice settlements, as New Mexico state law dictates how much insurance coverage physicians must carry and also caps compensation for these cases:

  • $750,000 for independent providers
  • $750,000 for outpatient health care facilities not owned or controlled by hospitals
  • $4,000,000 for hospitals and outpatient care facilities owned and controlled by hospitals

Medical Malpractice Settlement Negotiation Timeline

From start to finish, the average medical malpractice lawsuit takes anywhere from two to three years to settle. While we understand that many victims would like to receive their compensation in as timely a manner as possible, this timeline is most appropriate for building a compelling case that proves liability and fully takes the impact of your damages into consideration.

Many medical malpractice claims are settled outside of court, but those that do proceed to trial typically have a longer timeline. You might expect to spend as long as four years on a case if it goes before a judge, with cases valued at $2 million taking even longer.

Do not be daunted by the above timelines. When working with an attorney, most of the preparation, negotiations, and more will be handled by your legal team while you focus on your health and recovery.

Knowledgeable Attorneys Experienced in Medical Malpractice Settlement Negotiations

Do not leave your settlement up to chance. At Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, we have dedicated decades to securing the best possible outcomes for our clients and are proud of the results we produce time and time again.

If you have been injured at the hands of a medical professional, do not hesitate to contact our offices. We offer a free consultation so that we can meet in a no-obligation setting to discuss the potential merits of your case.

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