Malpractice in West Virginia

Tough malpractice reforms are putting plaintiff lawyers under pressure, and reducing malpractice rates. In other words, it’s working:

Sensabaugh said the caps have allowed cases to be settled quickly and reasonably, and have provided stability for medical insurance carriers.

That stability, said David Rader, president and chief executive of West Virginia Physicians’ Mutual Insurance Co., enabled the company to cut its premiums by 5 percent on Jan. 1.

“I anticipate that we can do the same next year and the year after,” he said.

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  • Anonymous

    Whew, physicians are finally able to make more money because people with legitimate claims can’t get representation. And those that are able to get a lawyer finally understand their lives are only worth about the cost of their surgeon’s home. Thank goodness!!

    I wonder why all those states without tort reform are also getting lower rates? Oh, who cares, more money in your pockets! Fewer victims getting compensated. Everybody wins! Especially the WV insurers, who have given back 5% of their previous increases and now have happy clients – I mean suckers – I mean doctors.

    I hope that WV doctor who settled 40 cases between 1998-2002 can afford to stay in business. He was just misunderstood.

    Healers, indeed.

  • Anirban

    physicians are finally able to make more money because people with legitimate claims can’t get representation.

    Or is it because lawyers want more money (40%) as a cut to represent those with legit. claims. may be you are not that sure it was a legit. claim in the first place. See how many cases are dropped, and you thought they were legit. May be you need more research before you take up a claim.

    their lives are only worth about the cost of their surgeon’s home

    Their lives are not even worth about the cost of a lawyer’s mansion, or even his jet. Life is priceless. Then a surgeon could demand a million for virtually giving somebody a new life, and say you owe me your life, I want a contingency fee on your life-term income. Quite unimaginable .

    Fewer victims getting compensated. Everybody wins

    How many victims were compensated anyway so far and how much you pocketed by the bogus claims?

    “I hope that WV doctor who settled 40 cases between 1998-2002 can afford to stay in business.”

    I too hope the blood suckers who represented those plaintiffs,who chose to settle with that doctor ,not trying the case in front of a jury denying them proper compensation , can jolly well afford to stay in business.

  • Anonymous

    “May be you need more research before you take up a claim.”

    Doesn’t matter how much you research it, you’ve just priced women, children, and the elderly out of the market.

    “Their lives are not even worth about the cost of a lawyer’s mansion, or even his jet.”

    You need to get a grip on reality. Physicians do MUCH better than attorneys on average. Maybe you don’t, though.

    “,not trying the case in front of a jury denying them proper compensation “

    How do you know it wasn’t proper compensation? Oh, that’s right – you don’t!

  • tortreformer

    Anonymous is an abolute moron. Every other profession from physicians to police officers are accountable for their “mistakes”, however a plaintiff’s attorney who only is successful in 20% of malpractice cases has no accountability for the frivolous cases he/she files. You are a moron.

  • Anonymous

    Folks, I can tell you from my personal experience looking for representation that lawyers do not bring frivolous cases to trial.

    For a lawyer to invest 2 years of his time on contingency when statistically 80% of medmal cases are lost, the potential juice better be worth the squeeze. Any gray area cases, ie. elderly, comorbidities, or cases involving low income earners with no dependents are weeded out quickly during the phone interview.

    You wouldn’t believe what doctors can get away with.

  • Anonymous

    ” however a plaintiff’s attorney who only is successful in 20% of malpractice cases has no accountability for the frivolous cases he/she files. You are a moron.”

    Actually, only a moron would think he would be successful in 20% of those cases. Considering 90% of all cases settle, I’d say your math skills need a little work, smartie.

  • Anonymous

    “Folks, I can tell you from my personal experience looking for representation that lawyers do not bring frivolous cases to trial.”

    Wrong. My wife and I were defendants in a civil suit (real estate contract)that was deemed frivolous, and the plaintiff’s attorney was slammed with sanctions. Please don’t make generalities like that.

  • Anonymous

    The medical establishment has won and its victims have been kicked into the gutter. The butchers are now free to cut, burn, poison, and maim their helpless victims with impunity. As compassionate and public spirited as most attorneys are, it is still unreasonable to expect them to pauperize themselves seeking justice and fair recompense for people who have suffered at the hands of the greedy and incompetent quacks who infest the “profession” of modern Western medicine.

    Tell me, physicians, do you not sometimes in the dark of night hear the pitiful cries of your victims? Have you no human feelings at all?

  • Anirban

    lawyers do not bring frivolous cases to trial
    And
    statistically 80% of medmal cases are lost

    Don’t you find an irony here, with due respect for the jurors. With your argument, do you think the huge money invested in such cases were worth trying? Why not channel some of those for people who are disenfranchised and will receive lower compensation. How poor are Lawyers in selecting cases? 80% failure rate is just intolerable. What % of this is frivolous is anyone’s guess.

    You wouldn’t believe what doctors can get away with

    Rape, murder, arson, burglary, kidnapping, ………..anything more in the list? Your perception that a legal system will police other professional work is an utter fallacy. With so many years of medmal and doctor scaring ,the rate of medical error is same here as Newzealand

  • Anonymous

    “How poor are Lawyers in selecting cases? 80% failure rate is just intolerable. What % of this is frivolous is anyone’s guess.”

    Anirban, do you really think that 80% of all cases a med mal lawyer takes result in no payment to the client?

    The irony of you lecturing others on their mistaken perceptions is not lost on anyone.

  • Anonymous

    Anon 10:00 AM,

    Please stop posting your pathetic nonsensical drivel. It’s tiresome and you can’t even find anything original to say anymore. You’d be better off joining the Tom Cruise Foundation.

  • Anirban

    “Anirban, do you really think that 80% of all cases a med mal lawyer takes result in no payment to the client?”

    Have I said that? No. I just responded to someone who claimed lawyers don’t bring frivolous cases to trial .They do have the chutzpah for that and lose 80% of the times, wasting everyone’s time and money.

    The irony of you lecturing others on their mistaken perceptions is not lost on anyone.

    Keep telling this to yourself.

  • Anonymous

    I have an important question, I don’t know if anyone who reads this forum knows the answer. I am seriously considering leaving medicine in the next few weeks because of the malpractice climate. My specific concern is that here in Massachusetts, where I work, there are no real limits on Payouts, or tort reform. I read somewhere the average payout is 3-4 million dollars. My insurance covers only 2 million. I’ve been unfortunate enough to be working in the past when several really bad outcomes have occurred, any of which could lead to a multimillion dollar payout. So here’s my Question: Do any of you personally know physicians who have lost personal assets or been forced to declare bankruptcy because they have lost a lawsuit? I’m hoping for legit, truthful answers and not editorial glib. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    ” I read somewhere the average payout is 3-4 million dollars.”

    That’s false. The average payout I believe is approximately $300,000.

    “when several really bad outcomes have occurred, any of which could lead to a multimillion dollar payout.”

    The mere existence of a bad outcome is not your worry, even assuming negligence. Your biggest awards will come from those victims with high economic damages and a significant amount of pain and suffering. Worst case is a high earning individual (like a physician), who suffers a debilitating injury which renders them unable to work, and the injury is visible to the naked eye and involves the loss of a common body function. Lawyer in my town had a case of a physician rendered unable to work. Settled for policy limits within a week of the demand.

    This assumes you’re not drunk or high or something egregious like that. If that’s the case, all bets are off because you’re looking at punitives.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Anon 6:19

    I believe those things are state specific. I am a doctor and not a lawyer. I went to a lawyer and specifically asked him which of my assets were at risk during a lawsuit and he walked me through each and how to avoid putting those assets at risk. I would recommend you do that specific to your state. I would be very surprised if your retirement assets were at risk. Additionally, they can’t take your house and leave you the mortgage. They can only attack equity. In that sense you need to drain any equity you have in easy targets and transfer them to hard targets. Again, this all depends on the specific rules of your state and your individual situation. (i.e. take out a home equity loan and max out a SEP, deferred comp, whole policy life)
    b

  • Anonymous

    Also, if you’re doing other things like rental property or other businesses, put them in a separate LLC or Corp. and they’ll be protected.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks. Just one more question. If I don’t own real estate, but have all my money in mutual funds, if I buy a house tomorrow, and use the mutual funds, and they try to take it away from a lawsuit from like 2003, can they do that? Is it worth it for me to buy a house because this will keep my money away from the lawyers?

  • jb

    Asset protection is extremely state specific. It is not a do it yourself project. Some general guidelines that I have learned:
    1. If you have money or mutual funds in your own name (like an ordinary person would), you are highly exposed and it would be child’s play for a plaintiff lawyer to get to them in the event of a loss that exceeds your policy.
    2. It is mandatory that you take steps to protect your assets before something bad happens- anything you do after the suit is filed will be called a fraudulent conveyance and will be reversed by the legal system. Get started now!
    3. If you have a fairly simple financial situation, it is easy and inexpensive ($hundreds to a couple thousand) to speak to a lawyer who knows your state’s requirements. The best way to find these lawyers is to talk to your physician colleagues.
    4. The best form of protection in any state is to put as much of your assets into qualified retirement plans (IRA, 401k, SEP, etc.) as possible. My understanding is that these are all protected from creditors by federal law that supercedes any state law to the contrary.
    5. Most states will protect your home, but again, talk to lawyer.
    6. If your state allows it, a cash value life insurance is a good place to park extra cash for thing like college expenses. My state protects these funds from creditors but only if the beneficiary of the insurance is spouse or children. Get legal advice on this one.
    7. Even if you think your policy is adequate for any damage your might conceivably do, check your state laws for “joint and several liablilty.” This means that if you are deemed 1% responsible for damages, and a colleage or hospital is 99% responsible, the law will look to you to pay 100% of damages if your codefendants can not pay.
    8. Taking legal advice from an MD like me is as smart as having your breast biopsy done by a lawyer. Please talk this over with a qualified lawyer. Good luck.

  • Anonymous

    Again, I’m the guy who is not a lawyer,

    What I read says is that strategy is much more efffective if it appears like you are doing it for another reason. “Your honor, my wife was pregnant and we needed a 3rd bedroom” rather than doing something just to move the assets from a non-protected to a protected class.

    Having said that, if you drain your assets and pay off any outstanding debt, that helps you two ways. Additionally, if you are moving to a state like Florida where your house cannot be attacked by creditors you could buy a house without a mortgage.

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