New Report Finds Over 2,500 Georgia Doctors Do Not Carry Medical Malpractice Coverage


July 28, 2014

Our Georgia medical malpractice insurance attorneys at Montlick and Associates recognize that patient's seeking medical care typically presume that their doctors are competent. While most physicians are skilled professionals, preventable medical errors and omissions account for approximately 98,000 deaths per year according to the Institute for Medicine. To put this number in perspective, this would make medical errors the sixth leading cause of death if it were included as a category by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the American Association for Justice (AAJ), approximately half of U.S. physicians admit failing to report incompetence or mistakes.

While a medical malpractice claim can provide monetary compensation for such errors, a lawsuit's effectiveness in compensating victims and deterring substandard care is compromised when medical professionals are uninsured. A new study indicates that an alarming number of patients are entrust their health to a physician who lacks malpractice coverage. The June edition of the Insurance Journal cites data compiled by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) that indicates over 2,500 Georgia doctors lack malpractice insurance.

When a physician is uninsured, patients may be left with limited options for seeking compensation for injuries caused by medical negligence. Patients can pursue a claim against the doctor's assets, but this may prove to be an inadequate to pay a malpractice settlement or claim involving significant injury or wrongful death. Although doctors typically have more assets than the average person, this does not mean that the personal assets of a doctor will necessarily provide appropriate compensation for a medical malpractice victim.

The business structure of the medical practice might limit the ability of a patient to reach the personal assets of the physician. Further, the compensation in a malpractice case can be difficult to satisfy even if significant personal assets are available. The average amount of a medical malpractice verdict or settlement was $462,000 for a settlement and $799,000 for a jury verdict according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Medical board data was compiled by the AJC under a 2011 law that makes it mandatory for physicians to disclose whether they carry malpractice insurance. The AJC requested responses from 29,500 licensed physicians in Georgia, and 2,536 indicated that they did not have malpractice coverage. There were another 3,000 licensees that could not be contacted because the state medical board was missing current contact information.

While some of the doctors might not currently be seeing patients, 113 of the uninsured doctors who responded have been sanctioned by the state medical board for violating regulations. Although an exhaustive investigation was not conducted to determine how many of the doctors were seeing patients without insurance, the AJC identified at least a dozen physicians providing patient care without malpractice coverage. Nine of the uninsured doctors were currently on probation at the time of the survey. Other doctors with worrisome records who reported not having insurance included:

• A doctor who settled a malpractice claim for $900,000.
• A doctor who is not allowed to treat cancer patients after several suffered injury or died.
• A physician who was sanctioned for performing a number of unnecessary surgeries.

Although 18 states require physicians to carry malpractice insurance or to participate in an alternate self-insurance program to compensate injured patients, Georgia does not impose such a requirement. If you are injured by medical malpractice committed by an uninsured doctor, a Georgia medical malpractice attorney can conduct an asset search to determine whether the doctor has available assets to satisfy a verdict or settlement. The attorney also can investigate whether other parties like a hospital might be liable for your injuries.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Experience to Work For You

If you or someone you love is a victim of medical malpractice, our Georgia medical malpractice attorneys can evaluate your claim to determine your legal rights and remedies. Our attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious personal injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Sources:
Claims, Errors, and Compensation Payments in Medical Malpractice Litigation. N Engl. J Med (May 11, 2006).

2,500 Georgia Doctors Lack Malpractice Insurance: Report. Insurance Journal. (June 3, 2014).

Medical Negligence: The Role of America's Civil Justice System in Protecting Patient's Rights. American Association of Justice. (February 2011).

Georgia Patients at Risk When Doctors Lack Malpractice Insurance. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (May 30, 2014).

Preventable Medical Errors – The Six Biggest Killer in America. American Association for Justice.


Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.