A Westchester County jury recently awarded a $120 million medical malpractice verdict that’s said to be the largest such award in the County’s history.

Between 2012 and 2022, New York State had more medical malpractice lawsuits than any other state. Nationwide, the rate of malpractice claims paid has declined substantially but payments have increased, suggesting these cases are getting harder to win but, when successful, may result in a higher payout.

$120 Million Westchester County Medical Negligence Verdict

On November 30, a jury returned a $120 million verdict against Westchester Medical Center following a 4-week trial.

The jury found that doctors delayed stroke treatment for a 41-year-old patient, causing him to suffer brain damage. He now resides in a residential brain injury center and is unable to care for himself or his family.

Inexperienced doctors on call at the hospital failed to recognize a blood clot on a scan that a radiologist later discovered. This resulted in a 3-hour delay in removing the clot. By then, the patient’s brain had already suffered damage to areas that control judgment and short-term memory.

The patient was awarded $9.375 million for past pain and suffering and $41,625 for future pain and suffering. His family also received compensation for past and future losses, including money to pay for his future medical and residential care.

The $120 million verdict is reportedly the largest ever award in a Westchester County medical malpractice case.

Report: NY Had Most MedMal Lawsuits Over Last Decade

New York led the nation in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed from 2012 – 2022, according to a study released last year.

Over the 10-year period, New Yorkers filed 15,951 medical malpractice claims against doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, beating out the next-highest state, California, by more than 3,500 lawsuits.

But the study also found that the costs of these suits to the healthcare industry totaled just $6.85 million—the 40th lowest total out of 50 states. Ohio, the state with the highest medical malpractice costs, paid out more than $853 million between 2012 and 2022.

In 2022, 1,170 medical malpractice payments were reported in New York totaling $560.58 million according to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). That’s an average payout of $478,632 per successful claim.

An analysis from the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York found that the state leads the U.S. in medical malpractice payouts. New York ranked third in the U.S. in nuclear verdicts, or verdicts worth $10 million or more, from 2010 – 2019. During that time medical liability cases were the second highest source of nuclear verdicts in the state at 22.5%.

New York City Medical Malpractice Claims

The NPDB tracks medical malpractice payments made by insurance companies, self-insured hospitals, and other healthcare entities. New York City also pays medical malpractice claims, typically those filed against NYC Health + Hospital facilities.

NYC received 441 medical malpractice claims in FY 2022 and resolved 89 claims at a cost of $60.3 million (average payout: $677,528), reports the City Comptroller. In FY 2021, the City paid out $75.5 million to settle 112 medical malpractice claims ($674,107 average payout).

The Comptroller’s report shows that the number of NYC medical malpractice claims filed and settled have decreased significantly over the past decade. Both the total settlements paid and the total amount paid in FY 2022 were at 10-year lows.

Paid Malpractice Claims Trending Downward

Not only New York City, but also New York State, has seen medical malpractice lawsuits and payments decrease since the 1990s and 2000s. Statewide, the number of payouts exceeding $1 million have also fallen over the years.

However, New York nuclear verdict data indicates that the state produces some very high medical liability verdicts. Since 2010, New York has had several medical liability cases that exceed $100 million.

A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concludes that the rate of malpractice claims paid on behalf of physicians nationwide has declined, but that mean compensation amounts and the percentage of paid claims worth more than $1 million have increased.

Taken as a whole, these data points would seem to show that medical malpractice claims are becoming harder for plaintiffs to win. But when they do win, plaintiffs could be in line for a sizeable payout.

The deck is often stacked against the patient in a medical malpractice lawsuit. A bad result alone is not malpractice. It is necessary to prove that what a healthcare provider did fell below the standard of care, and that this substandard care caused harm to the patient.

If a medical negligence case succeeds, the payout amount is influenced by factor that include the patient’s:

  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Medical costs
  • Physical pain and emotional distress
  • Lost wages and ability to earn a living

The impact a medical injury has on a patient’s family can also affect the total settlement or verdict amount. Often, the largest portion of a medical malpractice award stems from noneconomic damages.

Free Medical Negligence Case Review

New York is home to some of the best doctors and hospitals in the country. But it’s among the top states for medical malpractice as well.

If you have questions about the quality of medical care you received and need answers about your legal rights, The Sanders Law Firm is here to help. For a free consultation, call (833) SANDERS or send us a message.