Trial Vs. Settlement In Tennessee Medical Malpractice Cases: Knowing How To Choose Your Options
If you or a loved one have suffered any type of injury, illness, or setback following a medical visit that was supposed to make you feel better, you are not alone. Thousands of claims involving medical malpractice are filed each year in Tennessee, resulting in over $80 million in paid damages via court judgments, settlements, or other means. Each year, plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases (known as health care liability in Tennessee) assert over $3 billion in alleged damages, with actual payouts being a fraction of that. This discrepancy may be due to various reasons, including overinflated claims, successful defenses by medical providers, and settlements of claims.
However, the fact remains that many people suffer damages as a result of health care negligence and are entitled to compensation under Tennessee law. Patient injuries due to negligent acts or omissions by medical providers remain all too common, sadly, and those patients must often turn to the legal system for help.
Proving Health Care Liability in Tennessee
To prove negligence under Tennessee’s Healthcare Liability Act, a plaintiff must show:
- Duty of a healthcare professional similar to that of a reasonable healthcare provider in their profession.
- Breach. Through some action or failure to act the health care provider failed to follow their duty.
- Causation. The defendant’s breach of duty caused their injuries in a healthcare setting.
Demonstrating these elements for a medical malpractice claim under Tennessee law can be complicated, time consuming, and expensive at times. An experienced Tennessee medical malpractice attorney can advise as to what evidence is at your side and what your best course of action may be.
Costs and Benefits of Settling vs. Going to Trial
In asserting a claim for damages, you will need to consider some of the following factors:
- Your actual medical expenses as a result of the negligent act. This may include medical bills you have already been sent as a result of your treatment and any corrective treatments that may be needed. Unfortunately, this may also include ongoing medical expenses and – sometimes most importantly – future medical expenses that could be reasonably expected.
- Other expenses such as travel costs, food and lodging, etc., associated with continued medical appointments.
- Lost wages or other missed income due to a health care injury.
- Loss of consortium (intimacy) with a partner due to a lasting injury or illness caused by medical malpractice.
- Pain and suffering, or emotional distress.
All of these and other costs unique to your case may go into the computation of your health care negligence claim, and the amount you seek as part of your legal complaint.
On the other hand, the hospital’s attorneys, insurance agents, and actuaries will have their own computation laid out. Their counteroffer may be “zero” – in which case you may need to assert your rights at trial. Other times, the hospital’s insurance provider may be willing to offer a payment that factors in the injury sustained, your age and relative health, and other factors to provide what they feel is a fair number. They will expect most people to jump at the first payment offer, but an experienced attorney knows their “real” number is usually higher, and can be reached through the process of settlement negotiations.
While considering settlement offers, one must also assess the potential costs of taking a case to trial. At trial, a medical malpractice case must typically be proven through the use of expert testimony, and those experts must be paid a fee that goes into the thousands. Other costs associated with trial preparation and presentation can build up quickly, and in some cases may not be worth it when a fair settlement offer is on the table.
Our Knoxville, Tennessee Medical Malpractice Attorneys Will Assess Your Case and Determine the Best Path to Fair Compensation
Whenever the choice between settlement and trial is being made, you will need the guidance of a knowledgeable and skilled Knoxville medical malpractice attorney. Our attorneys at Atkins Brezina, PLLC, are well-experienced in this area and know how to weigh the costs and benefits of pursuing a settlement or pursuing a verdict at trial. We also know the tactics and techniques that health care providers use to reduce payouts and avoid payments that you should be entitled to in your situation.