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“I’m Sorry About That” – Apology Laws

A term that is relatively common within medical malpractice law is that of apology laws. Apology laws pertain to situations where health care providers, who have injured patients as a result of their medical negligence, take the time to sympathize with the injured party and their families without the act being used as an admission of guilt at trial. In other words, if a health care provider injures a patient and says that they are sorry, that apology cannot be used as evidence to bolster a patient’s lawsuit.

Recently, a study was conducted by Vanderbilt University which found that apology laws do not limit medical malpractice liability risk. Currently, 32 states have enacted some type of apology law with an eye on limiting litigation in the hopes that a mere apology would prevent patients from filing expensive and arduous lawsuits. However, after studying data from 2004 through 2011, researchers found that 2.6% of doctors face at least one medical malpractice lawsuit each year; 65.4% of medical malpractice lawsuits end up going to trial; 51.4% of medical malpractice lawsuits that reach the trial stage of litigation end up with the plaintiff receiving some type of compensation from the defendant; and 34.6% of the cases end up being resolved via settlement.

Generally, the results are not consistent with the intended effect of apology laws, as these laws do not reduce either the total number of claims or the number of claims that result in a lawsuit. Apology laws have no statistically significant effect on the probability that health care providers experience either a non-suit claim or a lawsuit.

However, while the goal of reducing litigation may not be working according to plan, the fact of the matter remains that an apology is in line with basic human decency. An argument can be made that whether apology laws work or do not work is not what really matters because health care providers that apologize to their patients are human beings and are attempting to take responsibility in one way or another.

When it comes to doctors and things going wrong in treatment, there are serious consequences that accompany such negligence. Apology laws, if nothing else, allow doctors to have a relationship with their patients without fearing that their words could cost them their career.

Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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