Most malpractice settlements include confidentiality provisions. Often, only the parties, their lawyers, and the judge in the case know how much money was paid to settle the claim.
But Florida’s insurance regulator releases aggregate information about malpractice insurers and their claims. This information provides insight into the average settlement for medical malpractice claims in the state.
Here is some information about two ways to calculate the average settlement for a Miami medical malpractice claim.
Florida’s Medical Malpractice Numbers
Every year, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FLOIR) releases a set of insurance industry reports. These reports provide claim numbers and indemnity for various insurance lines. For example, these reports can give you insight into Florida’s health insurance, life insurance, and property insurance claims.
FLOIR includes a report on medical malpractice insurers. The most recent report was issued in 2021 and provides information about medical malpractice claims in 2020.
This report does not cover every claim in Florida. FLOIR surveyed the top 23 malpractice carriers. These carriers wrote 80% of the malpractice policies in the state. Thus, the report covers a representative sample of the medical malpractice industry.
Claims Closed in 2020
In 2020, these 23 companies closed 2,494 medical malpractice claims. Almost half of these — 1,204 claims — arose from medical errors in hospital inpatient facilities.
The most common basis for malpractice claims closed in 2020 was a patient’s death. 778 claims closed by these 23 companies alleged a fatal medical error.
Other errors alleged in the closed claims include, in order of frequency:
- Minor infections, missed fracture, fall in hospital
- Deafness, loss of a limb, loss of an eye
- Loss of a finger, damage to organs
- Major burns, drug reaction
- Paraplegia, blindness, loss of multiple limbs
- Quadriplegia, brain damage
- Slight lacerations
- Emotional injury only, no physical damage
As you might expect, more claims came from more populated counties. Miami-Dade County had the most closed claims in the survey at 354.
“Indemnity” is an insurance term for money paid by an insurer to cover another party’s liabilities. A malpractice insurance policy creates a contractual obligation to indemnify doctors and hospitals for medical errors they commit.
In 2020, the 23 insurers surveyed by FLOIR paid $1,039,424,623 in indemnity. Insurers paid 30.1% of this amount for present economic losses. These losses include medical bills to correct the medical error and lost income due to missed work.
Insurers paid 15.7% for future economic losses. These losses include anticipated medical costs and diminished earning capacity due to permanent injuries.
The bulk of the indemnity — 54.2% — covered non-economic losses. Non-economic losses cover all of the ways your injuries diminished your quality of life.
This highlights the importance of submitting evidence with your claim of:
- Inability to perform activities like driving, dressing, and showering
These non-economic losses could make up the majority of your settlement.
Two Ways to Measure the Average Settlement for a Miami Medical Malpractice Claim
The FLOIR report does not disclose the average settlement amount. But you can calculate it from the data in two ways:
1. Average Across All Claims
You can divide the total indemnity by the total number of cases closed. This gives an average indemnity of $416,770 per claim.
This number reflects the average settlement, including the risk of losing your case. The 2,494 cases closed in 2020 include the cases closed because the insurance company won, or the injured patient dropped the claim. The average of $416,770 includes all those who received $0 for their claims.
2. Average Across Winning Claims
According to FLOIR, malpractice insurers paid indemnity in 57.1% of the cases they closed in 2020. If you divide the total indemnity by the number of paid claims, you get an average indemnity of $729,933 per claim paid.
This number represents the average settlement for winning claimants. In other words, when insurers pay, they pay an average of $729,933.