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Juries tend to favor physicians in liability cases

Physician Practice Advisor, April 25, 2007

Juries seem to have more sympathy for doctors than they do for patients who allege medical malpractice and likely will rule in the physician's favor, particularly when the evidence is weak, according to a study by Philip Peters Jr., JD, a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.

He found that:

  • Plaintiffs rarely win weak cases and have more success in toss-up cases or cases with strong evidence of medical negligence
  • Juries have the ability to recognize weak cases, and they agree with independent legal experts 80%-90% of the time
  • Physicians win 50% of the cases that independent legal experts expect plaintiffs to win
  • Factors systematically favor medical defendants in the courtroom; those factors include the defendant's superior resources, the social standing of physicians, social norms against profiting by injury, and the jury's willingness to give physicians the benefit of the doubt when the evidence of negligence is conflicting

Click here for more information about the study.