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Juries tend to favor doctors in malpractice cases

Article-Juries tend to favor doctors in malpractice cases

Columbia, Mo. — According to a new study — and contrary to what many might think — juries in medical malpractice cases usually sympathize more with the physician than with the patient, reports news source Reuters Health.

According to the study, which was conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Law and appeared in the May edition of the Michigan Law Review, juries usually return a verdict in favor of the physician when there is any doubt after hearing all the evidence and expert opinions.

The study involved an extensive review of malpractice-case studies dating from 1989 to 2006. The cases studied involved all medical specialties and assessed expert medical opinions as well as the merit of the claims.

Other key findings include

  • Plaintiffs seldom win weak cases; they are more likely to succeed in toss-up cases or if there is strong evidence of negligence.
  • Juries usually recognize weak cases, agreeing with legal experts 80 percent to 90 percent of the time.
  • Physicians win half the cases that independent legal experts believed the plaintiff would win.

A number of factors favor victory by the medical defendant, such as their superior resources, social standing and the social norm against profiting by injury.

Reuters quotes the study’s authors as saying, “The data show that defendants and their hired experts are more successful than plaintiffs and their hired experts at persuading juries to reach verdicts that are contrary to the evidence.”

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