A record breaking $217 million dollar lawsuit last year against a group of Emergency Room Physicians for failing to diagnose a stroke. Over $100,000,000 of that was punitive, meaning, the jury meant to punish the physicians for their negligence. Imagine being the physician – and learning (or knowing) that the plaintiff had offerred to settle the case for $1 million dollars, and your attorney said no.
Its true – check out today’s St. Petersburg Times – http://www.sptimes.com/2007/03/07/Hillsborough/Doctors_in_lawsuit_no.shtml
Did the attorneys tell their clients about the $1 million demand? They should have? Did they? The case exposes a very unique aspect of malpractice law. You sue a physician – the physician is insured, so his/her insurance company raises the defense, and hires the lawyers. So what if the physician wants to settle, and the insurance company doesn’t? Who will pay those punitive damages? Likely not the insurance company, but the physicians themselves.
Its a tough balance, and I for one, am glad to see an insurance company (or their attorneys at least) take a little heat for not wanting to settle a case. You mess up – thats why you have insurance. If I were the physicians – I would be angry too.