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New Report: Fewer Medical Malpractice Cases in Kansas but Higher Payouts

In Kansas, the Health Care Stabilization Fund provides healthcare providers with liability insurance. As such, it is a rich source of information on trends in the world of Kansas medical malpractice.

On October 16, the Health Care Stabilization Fund Oversight Committee released data pertaining to medical malpractice claims within Kansas during Fiscal Year 2013. According to the report, the number of medical malpractice claims continues to drop off, but the average amount paid to individual plaintiffs is at an all-time high.

All-time High of $29.4 Million Paid Out by Health Care Stabilization Fund

The Kansas Legislature first created the Health Care Stabilization Fund in 1977. Since the inception of the fund, the number of annual medical malpractice claims reported in the state has fluctuated over time.

For Fiscal Year 2013, which ended in July, the number of medical malpractice claims hit a 23-year low. There were just 229 new medical malpractice claims reported in Fiscal Year 2013, the fewest since 1990. A total of 79 medical malpractice claims were paid out by the Health Care Stabilization Fund in Fiscal Year 2013 – of course, since medical malpractice claims take a substantial amount of time to work through the legal system, many of these payouts were unrelated to the new claims filed in 2013.

While the number of claims was down, the amount paid out by the fund hit an all-time high. For the 79 paid claims, the Health Care Stabilization Fund paid out a total of around $29.4 million.

The executive director of the Health Care Stabilization Fund, Chip Wheelen, told the Oversight Committee that the higher settlement payouts to plaintiffs can be at least partially attributed to the rising costs of future medical care. Wheelen also said that more cases have been settling rather than going through a full trial, which he says can result in higher settlement payments to plaintiffs because of the cost savings of avoiding litigation.

“Folks don’t want to go to a jury trial,” Wheelen told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “Neither plaintiffs nor the health care providers want to go through the agony of a jury trial, which is also very expensive by the way.”

Only 18 medical malpractice cases reported to the Health Care Stabilization fund went to a jury trial in Fiscal Year 2013.

Talk to a Medical Malpractice Attorney if You Have Been Harmed by Caregivers

No one wants to be harmed by doctor negligence, but if you believe that you or a family member might have been the victim of medical malpractice, the new report may indicate that you stand a better chance of getting some form of equitable relief. Higher payouts mean that if your claim is successful, you will likely be able to secure the resources you need to pay the ongoing costs of an injury associated with medical negligence.

Talk to a Kansas medical malpractice attorney about your potential claim. Whether you can resolve things through a settlement, or ultimately have to go to trial, your attorney will help you through the process every step of the way.