Fewer than half of the medical malpractice claims settled by Connecticut insurers over the last four years resulted in payments to patients, and the average size of those payments fell last year, according a new report by state regulators.
The Connecticut Insurance Department’s medical malpractice report analyzed data submitted to the state on claims closed over the last 17 quarters by insurers, self-insurers and risk retention groups in the state. In all, 2,839 claims were closed, split more or less evenly between commercial insurers and captives/self-insurers.
The state found that 52 percent of the claims, or 1,463, resulted in no indemnity payments to claimants. But the remaining closed claims had an average indemnity payment of $617,722, including economic and non-economic damages.
Fewer claims were closed in 2009 than in 2008, and the average payments also declined, falling to an average of $545,000 last year from an average of $608,000 in 2008.
More than half of claims that had indemnity payments were under $200,000. Closed claims of over $1 million accounted for 16.4 percent of the total, but represented about 70 percent, or $587 million, of the total indemnity payments made by insurers and captive/self-insurers.
Payments to lawyers for defending malpractice claims – the other major component of closed claims – were far more common. Roughly four out of five closed claims generated payments to defense lawyers, which on average were just under $56,000.
Between 2008 and 2009, however, those legal costs rose significantly. Legal defense costs averaged around $58,000 in 2008 but grew to an average of $70,000 in 2009.
About half of the closed claims that generated legal expenses resulted in no indemnity payments on a client’s behalf. In those instances, lawyers collected an average fee of $40,267.
Of the 2,839 claims closed over that 17-quarters period, a little less than half were resolved in favor of the plaintiff.
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