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August 19th, 2015

PA Medical Malpractice News: Delaware County Jury Awards $12+ Million to Paralyzed Man

One of the Largest Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice Verdicts in Delco

Earlier this month, a Delaware County (Delco) jury awarded over $12 million to a paralyzed man and his wife in a medical/hospital malpractice case. The case involved complex claims of treatment at one of the largest hospitals in Delaware County, Delaware County Memorial Hospital. The plaintiffs made various medical negligence claims against an infectious-disease specialist, a neurologist and a radiologist, as well as other medical professionals including a nurse.

This recent verdict is one of the largest in medical malpractice cases in the history of Delco. It’s certainly an unusual occurrence. Historically, Philadelphia area suburbs tend to be conservative when it comes to medical malpractice and hospital malpractice lawsuits. Defense verdicts are common.

This is something insurance companies pay attention to when evaluating a claim – what juries have done in prior, similar cases in the specific county. In cases filed in historically defense-oriented counties, insurance companies are often less willing to consider settlement or may continually low ball a settlement offer.

However, insurance companies should now be paying attention. This recent case marks an upward trend in medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the Philadelphia suburbs. In the last few years, suburban juries in Delaware, Bucks and Montgomery counties have returned large verdicts in medical/hospital malpractice cases. For instance, earlier this year, a Delco jury awarded $7 million in a stroke misdiagnosis case.

These verdict amounts may sound staggering, but in reality they aren’t when you consider the extensive medical treatment often necessary in such serious injury cases. In the most recent Delco case, the plaintiff presented evidence that the paralysis necessitated an estimated $12 million in medical expenses projected over the plaintiff’s life. In the earlier Delco case, the plaintiff lost function in both legs and one arm. These are the types of facts insurance companies don’t want the general public to see. They want to focus on the amounts of the verdicts which, in and of themselves, may sound shocking.

Everyone makes mistakes, even doctors and specialists. No one is immune from error. That’s why professionals like lawyers and doctors pay for malpractice insurance. When a claim is made, the insurance policy kicks in. If the mistake constituted a breach of the relevant standard of care and was a causal factor in the plaintiff’s injuries, then the insurance company pays, up to the elected coverage amounts. Malpractice insurance works much like auto insurance in that regard. This is also something insurance companies also don’t want the general public to know.

Related: Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Claims Against Doctors and Surgeons – The Standard of Care

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