We use the Spanish Supreme Court Medical Malpractice Dataset (SSCMMD) to study predictors of compensation and payout levels in medical malpractice (med mal) cases decided from 2006 until 2010. Having the lower court delivering a pro-plaintiff outcome is a strong predictor of a positive payout, due to the fact that the Supreme Court tends to agree with the previous court decision. The probability of receiving compensation is significantly higher among cases involving permanent major/grave injuries.
With respect to compensation amounts, we find vertical inequality according to the level of harm. Cases involving permanent major injuries, permanent grave injuries and death receive much higher amounts of compensation in comparison with cases involving temporary/emotional injuries. Awards for cases involving death are also higher than awards for patients suffering temporary/emotional injuries, but lower than awards for patients suffering permanent major or permanent grave injuries. Moreover, when courts consider that patients should be compensated under the loss of chance doctrine, the levels of awards are considerably lower with respect to cases being fully compensated.
Amaral-Garcia, Sofia, Medical Accidents: Predicting Compensation (July 16, 2012).