Juries more often sympathize with doctors

It’s a common belief that juries frequently side with patients in lawsuits involving medical malpractice, but a study finds that’s not true.

Philip Peters, of University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Law, found contrary to popular belief, juries sympathize more often with doctors and less with their patients.

The findings, published in the May edition of the Michigan Law Review, was made following an extensive review of studies examining medical malpractice cases from 1989 to 2006.

The study found negligence matters and plaintiffs rarely win weak cases, but plaintiffs have more success in toss-up cases and have better outcomes in cases with strong evidence of medical negligence. Juries have the ability to recognize weak cases and agree with independent legal experts 80 percent to 90 percent of the time regarding such cases and doctors are victorious in 50 percent of the cases that independent legal experts expected plaintiffs to win.

“When the jury is in doubt after hearing the conflicting experts, the benefit of that doubt usually goes to the defendant — (the doctor),” Peters said in a statement.
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