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The majority of medical malpractice claims in seven states were dismissed without any compensation to the claimants, according to a new Bureau of Justice Statistics study. The study reviewed medical malpractice insurance claims closed from 2000 through 2004 in Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada and Texas. Many malpractice claims were closed without a payout and compensation rarely topped the $1 million mark, according to the study by the U.S. Department of Justice statistics division. In Florida, Maine, Missouri and Nevada, for example, less than 10% of claims resulted in a payout over $1 million. Texas claims led to a payout over $1 million about 11% of the time, compared with about 17% of Illinois and Massachusetts claims. Two-thirds of the claims in Florida, Maine and Missouri, resulted in a payout under $250,000. Only about 12% of closed claims ended in a payout in Illinois, compared with about one-third in Maine, Missouri and Nevada. Florida, Massachusetts and Texas collected limited or no information about claims closed without a payout. Although settlement before a jury or judge’s decision is the norm, including in at least 95% of cases in Florida, Nevada and Texas, claims closed after trial led to median payouts more than 2 1/2 times larger in those same three states. Among states that collect data on injury categories and payouts, payouts were highest for claimants with permanent major or grave injuries, ranging from median payments of $278,000 to $989,000 in Florida, Illinois and Missouri. In contrast, death resulted in median payouts of $216,000 in Florida, $172,000 in Missouri and $457,000 in Illinois. In all states, median payouts have climbed sine the 1990s. Missouri payouts spiked nearly 355% from $33,000 in 1990 to $150,000 in 2004. State databases with information dating back to the early to late 1990s showed median payout increases of 36% in Florida, 49 percent in Illinois, 57% in Massachusetts, 26% in Nevada and 27% in Texas.

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