There can be a lot of fine print within insurance policies that people never realize are there, or don’t realize they could have had. In the case of a malpractice lawsuit, you want to be absolutely certain that you’re covered from as much damage as possible.
What Is Consent-to-Settle Protection?
Consent-to-settle protection is a clause within certain medical professional liability policies that allow you to have the final say concerning the settlement of a suit. In other words, the insurance company must have your signature in order to settle a case. If you choose not to settle, the claim will go to court for verdict.
What is a Medical Malpractice Suit?
As you most likely know, an incident is considered medical malpractice when a patient is injured through negligence or omission by a medical professional. However, to file a claim of medical malpractice, the incident must have:
- Violated standard care: Medical professionals and institutions are held to a high standard, and there are guidelines in place that each professional must follow. If the professional is found acting outside those guidelines or not meeting standards of care, the patient may claim negligence.
- Injury occurred through negligence: This is a difficult claim to prove, as the patient must prove that the injury they suffer was due to negligence. Examples of this would be a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosing, unnecessary surgery, premature discharge, prescription or dosage error, and most other negligent acts that could result in injury or worsening conditions for the patient.
- Resulted in extreme damage: In severe cases, clients may claim that they’ve been subject to disability or unusual pain due to medical negligence. This is typically the incident people think of when they hear medical malpractice, as it brings to mind victims of botched surgeries or unnecessary surgeries. They can also sue for the current and future cost of fixing the surgery or medication related to the injury.
Should I Settle a Claim?
This depends entirely on the situation and claim at hand. In 2018, almost $350,000 was paid in medical malpractice claims. 20% of medical malpractice costs in the US occur in New York with an average of around 85 claims per 1 million residents, making New York the #1 state in paid medical malpractice claims. Between 2013 and 2017, insurers paid $31 million for 24 plaintiff judgements while the average settlement is currently $425,000. That being said, most claims tend to rule in favor of the defendant, and premiums can often jump when the insurer is forced to settle a claim. Having a consent-to-settle clause gives you the choice to decide whether to settle a claim or not—otherwise the insurance company will make that decision for you. Discuss your situation with your agent and your trusted advisors to make the best decision as to whether to settle.
Do I Need Consent-to-Settle Protection?
If you’re in a profession concerning people, you will always have human error. The same goes for professions dealing with images and machinery. Medical practices have both, and it’s important to make sure you and your organization are protected from a possible error ruining your career or reputation. If you’re ever in the unfortunate situation where a medical malpractice claim has been filed against you, it may be in you and your practice’s best interest to have control over settlement. If you wish to defend yourself or your practice in court, having a consent-to-settle clause will give you the opportunity to do so.
Connect with a New Jersey malpractice insurance agent today to discuss medical professional liability insurance and see if your policy includes a consent-to-settle clause. If it doesn’t, we can help you find the right policy that does.