New Record Set in Number of Medical Liability Mega Verdicts

February 13, 2024

Do You Want to Hear the Good News or Bad News First?

Ok, here is the bad news.

The year 2023 saw the largest number ever of so-called mega or “nuclear” verdicts in medical liability lawsuit awards. There were 57 medical liability verdicts of $10 million or more in the United States with about half of those reaching $25 million or more, according to a recent Medscape article. By comparison, during the time period between 2012 to 2022, nuclear verdicts reached 34 in 2013 and jumped to 52 in 2022.

While states like New York, Illinois and Florida have previously been the site of the highest dollar amounts in medical liability awards, these mega verdicts of $10 million or more are now occurring in other states where they were not so common, including Georgia and Utah.

The mega verdicts can have lasting effects on future claims, even if they don’t always stick. Often they are reduced on appeal.

According to the Medscape article, there is no single reason for the rise in the mega verdicts. They suggest that plaintiffs’ attorneys cite these large jury verdicts in similar cases to induce settlements and higher payouts. The Medical Professional Liability Association posits the theory that people are angry at the healthcare system in general and that plays out in these liability lawsuits. The consolidation of hospital and medical groups may also be a factor as that may reduce the personal connections juries have with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

And now the good news!

If there’s any good news in the article, it is that a majority of the medical liability cases are dropped or settled before trial and claims that go to juries usually end in the physician’s favor.
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