Medical malpractice litigation lends itself to empirical research. This article draws on a unique dataset consisting of all the filed cases closed by a major medical malpractice insurer over a two-year period. Using this data, this article addresses two questions. First, what factors drive indemnity payments made in settlement of claims? Second, what factors drive the amount of those indemnity payments? We were able to assess a number of potential factors affecting case resolution that are rarely available to researchers. We find that the insurer’s internal assessment of potential liability, along with the number of experts designated by the parties, is a strong predictor of payment. We also find that once the decision to seek a settlement is made by the insurer, non-medical factors become significant. Specifically, the plaintiff’s age and marital status, as well as the number of experts designated by the plaintiff, are the most important predictors of the amount of payment. The severity of the plaintiff’s injury is not a reliable predictor of the amount of payment.
Catherine Harris and Ralph Peeples, Medical Malpractice Litigation in North Carolina: What Claims Get Paid, and for How Much?, 87 University of Cincinnati Law Review 645 (2018).