What is the Average Amount of Virginia Medical Malpractice Settlements?

It is difficult if not impossible to predict the amount of compensation that will be awarded in any given potential malpractice claim. However, there are some statistics that are useful in understanding how medical malpractice claims were resolved in the past couple of years in Virginia. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Practitioner Data Bank provides an analysis tool to do just that.

Average Malpractice Settlement Amounts

The NPDB analysis tool provides historical data (1990 to September 2023) that can be analyzed by state, practitioner type and report type. The table below shows the number of reports and the total and average amount of settlements by practitioner type in the years from January 2022 through September of 2023.

Category # of Practitioners # of Reports Total of ALL Settlements AVERAGE $ Amount Settlement
Physician (MD) 5,865 197 $106,820,000  $542,233.00
Physician (DO) 293 13 $6,070,000  $466,923.00
Chiropractor 226 5 $67,000  $13,400.00
Dentist 1,349 41 $9,180,000  $223,902.00
Nurse – Adv. Practice Nurse 319 6 $1,570,000  $261,666.00
Nurse – Registered Nurse 4,072 10 $1,070,000  $107,000.00
Nurse – Practical Nurse 2,868 2 $90,000  $45,000.00
Physician Assistant 147 8 $2,180,000  $272,500.00
Podiatrist 149 3 $2,930,000  $976,666.00
Psychologist 124 1 $330,000  $330,000.00
Social Worker 202 1 $130,000  $130,000.00
Technicians and Assistants 1,655 1 $30,000  $30,000.00
Therapists and Counselors 1,014 1 $30,000  $30,000.00

Source: Division of Practitioner Data Bank, Bureau of Health Workforce, Health Resources and Services Administration. Generated using the Data Analysis Tool at https://www.npdb.hrsa.gov/analysistool. Data source: National Practitioner Data Bank (2023): Adverse Action and Medical Malpractice Reports (1990 – September 30, 2023).

Note that in the years surveyed there were 0 reports and 0 settlements against Dental Hygienist/Assistants, Nursing Para-Professionals, Optometrists, and Pharmacists reported in the data.

Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts by State

According to an article published in February 2023 in Moneyzine, Medical Malpractice Payouts by State, in 2021-2023 in Virginia there were 116 cases with a total value of $38.52 million brought, with an average case value of $330,000. There are a wide range of settlement amounts which vary by practitioner type as well as other factors.

2021-2023 Virginia Average Case Value = $330,000

What Factors Affect Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts?

There are many factors that affect the amount of settlement awards in malpractice cases. Some are location related whereas others are related to the specific case details.

Factors Affecting Settlement Amounts

Venue

Venue refers to the location, usually the county or city, in which the lawsuit is filed.

Damage Caps

Damage caps refers to the limit on damages imposed by law. These can be related to the jurisdiction or the type of case.

Insurance Policy Limits

The amount of coverage available under the defendant’s medical malpractice insurance coverage.

Severity of Injury

In general, injuries which are more severe and have more far-reaching consequences typically garner higher awards, and lesser injuries bring smaller awards.

Actual Costs of Injury and Treatment

The recovery of injuries requiring long-term or life-long care will include compensation for this category of damages.

Provability of Negligence

Where negligence or obvious malpractice are evident, juries sometimes (rarely) compensate the victim with punitive damages – a type of non-economic damage intended to prevent future similar behavior.

Patient Age / Life Expectancy

A calculation of damages takes into account the age of the victim. Future damages are multiplied by the number of expected years left in the person’s life.

Plaintiff Presentation

A plaintiff who presents themselves respectfully, is able to communicate clearly in court, and who has a compelling story will often make the difference between a mediocre and a large result.

Quality of Expert Testimony

The education and professionalism of the experts hired can make a difference. Some experts have more credibility on the stand and are able to relate the severity and consequences of the injury to the jury in a way that leads to fair compensation for the injured patient.

Availability of Supporting Evidence

A case where there is substantial evidence to prove the facts of the case has a greater chance of high compensation.

Witness Credibility 

In cases where lay witnesses are called to testify to the impact of injuries on the plaintiff, the believability and strength of the testimony can be a factor in the amount of the award.

Settlement v Trial

Cases which resolve during settlement negotiations or mediation before trial nearly always settle at a dollar figure less than what might be possible at trial.

Attorney Skill and Experience

One of the biggest factors in driving maximum compensation for plaintiff’s injuries is the skill and experience of the malpractice attorney.

This is why it is important to find representation with the requisite history and experience to demand maximum compensation, and to back that demand up in court when necessary.

Medical Malpractice Damages Formula

If there is a formula for determining the actual value of a malpractice case, it would look like this:

Potential case value formula for medical malpractice cases
Past economic damages + future economic damages + past non-economic damages + future non-economic damages = Potential Case Value

Potential Case Value Calculation

In the above calculation, only the past economic damages represent an exact dollar amount of loss that has already been suffered.

Future medical expenses are determined based on future estimations of costs for care, as established by a medical expert’s expert opinion.

Experienced medical malpractice attorneys may need to employ the expertise of financial professionals, like economists, who utilize life expectancy data to calculate lifespan and loss of income or medical costs over time.

Non-economic damages, such as those for inconvenience, are always based on subjective factors. This makes sense – there are no receipts for pain and suffering or mental anguish. You can’t quantify the cost of a permanent disfigurement. You can’t calculate an exact dollar figure tied to a lower quality of life. These must be established through witness statements and courtroom testimony.

Of course, these calculations represent the total potential value that a case might have, not the actual award. Also, this number does not take into account any costs of bringing a case to trial nor the attorney’s fees that would be due.

Malpractice Cases are Complex

As you can see, the calculation of damages in a medical malpractice case is complicated. Not only are the issues complex, most of the time, the evidence must be supported by expert testimony. Then an award amount must be arrived at.

An experienced attorney must convince the judge or jury, or negotiate with the defendant or medical malpractice insurance company, for a settlement amount that is sufficient to compensate the victim.

If you have a serious medical malpractice case, and you want to achieve the maximum financial recovery you deserve, you need an experienced malpractice attorney, like those at Wallace Wason, PLLC at your side. Contact us today for a free case evaluation (703) 638-7717.