Clients and prospective clients often ask us, “are medical malpractice cases hard to win?”  “Can I win a medical malpractice case at trial?”  Or, “I heard medical malpractice cases were impossible for a patient to win, is this true?”  While there are many different ways to go about analyzing the answers to these questions, and no approach is perfect, one way is to review the medical malpractice verdict results in Idaho over time.  

 

Going back over approximately the last fifteen years, we find numerous plaintiff-patient medical malpractice verdicts for substantial dollar amounts.  Since 2005, there have been 21 reported medical malpractice jury trials in Idaho, in venues all over the state.  13 of those were for the plaintiffs.  8 of those were defense verdicts.  Based on this data, albeit a small sample size and albeit a review of only those cases that have actually gone to trial, plaintiffs (patients) are, on average, winning these cases at trial more than they are losing them, at approximately a 62% win rate.  The dollar amounts are also relatively large, ranging from $600,000 on the low end to $7.9 million on the upper end.  

 

Looking at this data set, the conventional wisdom that these cases are impossible for plaintiffs, or even harder than average for plaintiffs to win, is simply not accurate, and the assertion that Idaho has low dollar amount verdicts in these cases is demonstrably false.  All too often the defense inaccurately takes the position that these cases are hard to win in Idaho as a general matter.  Such an inaccurate risk assessment may result in the defendant healthcare provider later finding themselves subject to a substantial verdict and judgment.  A high dollar money judgment can possibly be excess of the healthcare provider defendant’s medical malpractice liability insurance policy limits -- a scenario that raises questions about conflicts of interest on the part of insurance defense counsel and bad faith conduct on the part of the insurance company.

 

Dollar amount of plaintiff verdicts in medical malpractice cases in Idaho by venue and date:

 

10/19: Idaho Falls $893,422

2/19: Ketchum $619,000

4/18: Idaho Falls $7.9 million

2/18: Boise $2.2 million

5/17: Boise $632,000

6/16: Twin Falls $3.8 million

9/14: Boise $3.7 million

8/14 Boise $1.1 million

11/13: Boise $1 million

10/11: Coeur d’Alene $760,000

4/09: Caldwell $4.2 million

4/06: Boise $6 million

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