Are Canadian Medical Malpractice Claims Different Than in the United States? (by Halifax Lawyer John McKiggan Q.C.)
In a word; yes.
Lot’s of people have read about large jury awards for personal injury claims in the United States. Sometimes the American jury awards seem to be out of proportion to the injury.
In Canada, court awards are much lower than awards for similar injuries from courts in the United States. Cases that might be successful in the U.S. are simply not economically feasible to pursue in Canada.
Nova Scotia also has some of the most conservative (lowest) awards in Canada for compensation for personal injury claims.
Role of the C.M.P.A.
In Canada, most doctors are defended by a single non-profit organization called the Canadian Medical Protection Association (the C.M.P.A.).
As of 2007 the C.M.P.A. had two point nine (2.9) BILLION DOLLARS in assets (money in the bank). The C.M.P.A. uses this money to hire the best experts and lawyer money can buy.
Many victims of serious medical errors cannot work, or have huge expenses for ongoing rehabilitation or medical care.
Like David vs. Goliath
Against such overwhelming financial odds, Canadian victims of medical malpractice face an almost insurmountable challenge to obtain justice and fair compensation for their injuries. Often medical malpractice victims feel like David vs. Goliath.
Thousands of Injuries and Deaths Every Year
The Canadian Medical Association Journal conducted a study that determined that over 87,000 patients in Canada suffer an adverse event (code words for a medical mistake) in hospitals each year. The study found that as many as 24,000 people die each year in hospitals due to medical errors.
Lots of Potential Malpractice Claims
That’s more than 100,000 potential malpractice claims in Canada every year! But remember that only includes deaths and injuries in hospitals! The statistics don’t include negligent acts by family doctors in clinics and offices and negligence by chiropractors, dentists and other health care professionals.
But between 2002 and 2006 the C.M.P.A. reports only 5246 lawsuits were filed against doctors in Canada: only about a 1000 claims per year.
Only a Few Malpractice Victims Ever Sue
In other words, out of more than 100,000 potential claims 99% of medical malpractice victims never even filed a claim!
The C.M.P.A. annual reports brag about its success rate in defending claims brought against doctors. More than 3800 of the 5000 claims were dismissed or abandoned because the victim or his or her family quit or ran out of money, or died before trial.
Some Alarming Statistics
- The C.M.P.A. settled only 229 claims out of court (usually after several years of litigation and just before trial).
- Of the 577 cases that went to trial only 121 resulted in a verdict for the Plaintiff victim. In other words, only twenty percent (20%) of medical malpractice plaintiffs actually won their trial.
- For the few victims who won at trial, the median damage award was only $95,500.00.
- In 2006 the C.M.P.A. spent 72 million dollars on legal fees to defend doctors in law suits across Canada.
- Of more than 5000 lawsuits filed against doctors, only two percent (2%) resulted in trial verdicts for the victim.
In other words, ninety eight percent (98%) of Canadian medical malpractice victims never receive a penny in compensation!
Can We Help You?
If you think you need our help, you can contact medical malpractice lawyer John McKiggan Q.C. online or by calling (877) 423-2050 or toll free at (877) 423-2050.
You can also get more free information on John’s Halifax Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog.
You may also want to read John McKiggan’s book Health Scare: The Consumer’s Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada. You can buy a copy on Amazon.com(all sale proceeds are donated to charity) or you can get a free copy by contacting us through our website.