Articles Posted in States

Our law firm handles birth injury cases all over the country. We recently picked up a case in Minnesota. The first thing we need to do when going to a new jurisdiction is research the law and talk to local counsel. I thought it would be a good idea to publish our research. If someone else had done put their results online, it would have made our job a lot easier.

What is the Statue of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims?

Under Minnesota law, all malpractice claims against “health care providers” must be brought within 4 years of the date that the “cause of action accrued.” Min. Stat. § 541.076. The term “health care provider” includes doctors, dentists, nurses, therapists and any other licensed professional. It also includes hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities providing medical care. Min Stat. § 145.61. gavelstethescope2In Minnesota, the date that a “cause of action accrues” (which begins the 4 year time period) is based on when the actionable injury occurs. Minnesota has explicitly rejected the well-known “discovery rule” followed in most jurisdictions. Molloy v. Meier, 660 N.W.2d 444, 454 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003), aff’d, 679 N.W.2d 711 (Minn. 2004). To balance out some of the harsh results of a limitations period without the discovery rule, the courts in Minnesota have developed several tolling doctrines for medical malpractice claims. These tolling doctrines extend the date for when the limitations period begins. The “termination of treatment” rule is the tolling doctrine used to establish the accrual date for most malpractice claims in Minnesota. Under this rule, the 4-year limitations period does not begin until the doctor’s treatment for a particular condition concludes. See Broek v. Park Nicollet Health Servs., 660 N.W.2d 439, 442 (Minn. 2003). The doctor’s treatment terminates when he is no longer seeing the patient and there is nothing more to be done. The termination of treatment doctrine is not applicable in cases where the alleged malpractice involves a “single act” such as a surgical error. See, e.g., Murray v. Fox, 220 N.W.2d 356 (Minn. 1974) (applying “single act” exception to claim based on negligent surgical procedure). The “termination of treatment” rule does not apply to medical malpractice claims based on misdiagnosis. A malpractice claim for failure to diagnose accrues when the plaintiff suffers some form of “compensable damage” as a result of the misdiagnosis. MacRae v. Group Health Plan, Inc., 753 N.W.2d 711 (Minn. 2008)(rejecting the argument by the doctor that cause of action should accrue when alleged misdiagnosis occurred since compensable injury not suffered until years later).

 car collisionThe average verdict in a personal injury case in Minnesota is $271,577. The national average is $885,600.

Does this mean Minnesota juries are not sympathetic to personal injury victims? I think it might, actually. In fact, I think the statistics might actually underestimate how stingy Minnesota juries can be.

Why? The biggest driving force in personal injury verdicts is car accidents because is the most common type of personal injury case. So the state’s law in dealing with car accident claims is going to make a more meaningful impact on personal injury statistics.

New York City
Jury Verdict Research’s recent study finds that the compensatory median award for personal injury trials in New York is $287,628, dwarfing nationwide median is $34,550.

New York has favorable juries, particularly in its urban areas. But the reality is that this number is distorted by the lack of smaller and midsized car accident lawsuits. Under New York’s no-fault law, an insurance company is required to pay drivers, passengers, and pedestrians up to $50,000.00 for their legitimate economic and medical losses but does not provide for pain and suffering. Only permanent injuries cases can recover more than $50,000. This leads to fewer lawsuits in smaller cases – of which there are many – which increases the overall award in New York.

Jury Verdict Research found that the average money damage award for personal injury trials in California is $1,814,094. The median verdict, perhaps a better statistic, is $114,305. Other interesting facts from the study:

  • The median verdict in a wrongful death case is $2,212,936, compared to the national average of $1,450,000
  • Approximately 17% of the verdicts in California were back and neck strains. They pull the median and average verdicts down. The median back and neck strain verdict was $10,885

Below is a list of GEICO settlements and verdicts in Oregon in 2016.

  • Oregon: $120,000 Verdict. An adult female is driving in the left lane of a three-lane, one-way road when she is struck by a vehicle attempting to make a left turn from the center lane. She was insured by GEICO, and filed a claim to recover underinsured motorist benefits. GEICO argues the extent of her injuries, but a jury awards her $1,991.69 for economic damages and $73,008.31 for non-economic damages.
  • Oregon: $99,978 Verdict. Plaintiff is traveling on an off-ramp in front of defendant’s vehicle. Plaintiff stops her vehicle at a stop sign. She inches out to look at traffic, and defendant’s vehicle strikes the rear of her vehicle. The plaintiff suffers a left shoulder injury requiring surgery as a result, as well as thoracic and lumbar sprains. The defendant is insured by GEICO, and ordered to pay $74,978 in medical expenses, $20,000 in lost wages, and $5,000 in non-economic damages to the plaintiff.

Disc injury claims

Value of Injury Cases: Disc Injuries

I think it is useful to write about jury verdicts and give thoughts as to why I think the jury found as they did and the issues that arose in the case.  Why?  Because people are looking online for information about the value of their cases.  On our website, we provide a ton of verdict information for victims, many of which suffered a herniated disc.  This helps give some lens to the value of a case.  But it hardly tells the real story of the claim and why a jury may have valued it the way that they did.  So hopefully posts like this help educate those looking for answers.

Facts of Mayrink v. Luchsinger

This is a herniated disc case.   Plaintiff, a painter by trade, crashed into a median strip after being pushed off the road by the defendant who must have changed lanes without looking.   Usually, in these lane change cases, you almost invariably have a liability fight on your hands.  Defense counsel in this case, probably wisely, admitted responsibility.  Why is this wise?  Defense counsel often admits liability because they know if they fight and lose there is real credibility lost on the scope of the injuries battle.   By admitting fault, defendant seems more credible and honest than if they fight on liability and lose.  Continue reading

A South Dakota judge ruled this week that health care providers are subject to negligent credentialing lawsuits when they fail to properly malletjusticecredential doctors.

Judge Bruce Anderson made another important ruling: that even people on the credentialing committee may be subject to suit.   This has not real practical implications because a hospitals is going to stand behind the committee.  But it is never fun to be sued personally even if you have no real exposure.

The judge also found that hospitals cannot claim peer review privileges, as an absolute defense against discovery requests.  This is very pro patient safety and could be a ruling that could start to erode the absolute defense from discovery; that has long been the case in Maryland and in most states. The judge’s logic: hospitals may have an obligation, in some cases, to the public that outweighs peer review confidentiality.  Makes a lot of sense to me.

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Jury Verdict Research conducted a study and found that the median award in a personal injury case is approximately $100,000.  This is twice the national average.  The bad news for New Jersey PlaintiffsNew Jersey sign is that they only win in 36 percent of personal injury cases that go to trial.

New Jersey has a good sample size to work with to compute this data.  Over 130,000 civil lawsuits are filed every year.  I don’t have data on how many of them are personal injury cases.  But I can estimate: a lot.

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Here are 5 interesting Virginia jury verdicts in 2015 that you might find interesting:

$13,000 Settlement – A 31 year-old man is driving his car on the highway at a rate of around 60 mph. He approaches an intersection where a woman driving a pickup truck is attempting to vaflagmake a turn in the middle of the intersection. She starts to travel out into the intersection but stops upon seeing another driver’s car trying to make a left turn in front of her. Contact was unavoidable at that point, and the woman clips the man’s tires. He immediately complains of neck pain and is transported to the hospital via EMS, where doctors diagnose him with soft tissue injuries. He sues both of the involved drivers, claiming that they were negligent in the operation of their vehicles. The defendants contend that plaintiffs injuries were actually from a motorcycle accident that he sustained years ago. Prior to trial, the parties settle for $13,000.

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There have been a lot of interesting personal injury and wrongful death verdicts and settlements in 2015 in Pennsylvania.  Here are five verdicts you will find of particular interest. paflagbl

$450,000 Verdict – A woman is descending the stairs at her row home when she slips on one of the middle steps. She reaches for the hand rail, but just misses it, causing her to fall down the remaining stairs. The woman calls an ambulance, which transports her to the emergency room. At the ER, she is diagnosed with a fractured shin bone and a tear of the quadriceps. She has to receive care after the fall given that her leg is immobilized. After the accident, she sues the property-owner, alleging negligent maintenance of the stairs. In her lawsuit, she brings up the fact that she had told the property-manager about how slippery the stairs were on two occasions. At trial, her stair-expert suggests that the stairs were covered with too much polyurethane. This convinces the jury, who awards her $450,000.

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