One thing we often hear from prospective jurors in Phoenix (and throughout Arizona) is that medical malpractice should have caps on damages because high verdicts cause medical costs and insurance for doctors to go up. Study after study proves that this is simply wrong, but the insurance companies have done a great job (read: spent hundreds of millions of dollars) convincing people that it is true. In Arizona, our state constitution prohibits a cap on damages for medical malpractice or wrongful death cases (and for any personal injury case). Since we have no cap on medical malpractice damages, the cost of medical malpractice insurance for doctors must be through the roof, right?
This month, Arizona’s largest medical malpractice insurance provider for doctors announced that it is giving its members $25 million in a dividend. This money is collected from premiums that doctors pay for their insurance, which is then used to set reserves for lawsuits. If verdicts and settlements were so egregiously high that they were harming the system, MICA would not be RETURNING $25 million to its insureds. The fact is that verdicts in Arizona are notoriously LOW when compared to other states. This is not because the cases are worth less; it is because insurance companies have spent decades bombarding Arizonians with misinformation about how lawsuits hurt the community.
For over 35 years, Snyder & Wenner has litigated only the most important medical malpractice and wrongful death cases. We have been able to provide families and victims with money to help them continue on with their lives despite their terrible, life-changing losses. We have also been fortunate to use lawsuits as a mechanism to force hospitals and doctors to change how they run their practices. Too often, hospitals and doctors put profits over safety, and fail to protect the patient. If it were not for medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits, hospitals and doctors would have no check and balance on their conduct. These cases are important, and we are proud to help those in need. So, the next time someone tells you that we need to keep medical malpractice and wrongful death verdicts in Phoenix low, please remind them that Arizona’s largest medical malpractice insurance company has made so much money that it is returning $25 MILLION to its doctors.