Medical Malpractice Settlement Offers
It is no secret that medical errors occur in the United States each and every day. A landmark 2016 study published by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine determined that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. This statistic does not reflect the additional millions upon millions of medical errors that result in non-fatal harm to patients each year.
And yet, despite the prevalence of medical errors and the ways in which they profoundly affect patient care in this country, it is not common for providers to admit when they make mistakes. Some providers are unaware that they have made mistakes until they are alerted to consequences of those mistakes. Other providers simply wish to limit their own liability by failing to inform patients when mistakes have occurred. With that said, in the rare instance in which a medical error has been identified, a provider has admitted to making a mistake, and that provider has offered a patient a settlement in order to avoid litigation, it is important not to assume that the terms of the settlement are either fair or have been made in good faith.
Seeking a Legal Opinion
All too often, as an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Oregon– including those who practice at Andersen Morse & Linthorst – can confirm, medical malpractice settlement offers do not reflect the proper amount of compensation that should be owed to a patient. In the event that a medical malpractice settlement offer devalues the amount of compensation to which a patient is entitled, accepting that offer may result in financial hardship for the patient down the road, in the event that their future medical expenses are not covered by the amount offered in the settlement. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to retain independent counsel and you have a lawyer review the terms of any medical malpractice settlement that you may have been offered before you decide whether to accept or reject the offer in question. Accepting the offer may be in your best interests, but only if the value and the terms of that offer are fair.
The other primary reason why it is so important to have an attorney review the terms of a settlement offer before accepting it is that in accepting those terms, you will likely sign away your right to sue the provider in the future. Again, this term may be reasonable in the context of a fairly valued settlement. However, it is not wise to sign away your rights until you are sure that the offer has been fairly valued.