A report commissioned by the Ontario Government and authored by retired Justice Stephen Goudge has confirmed what medical malpractice lawyers and their clients have been saying for years: that medical malpractice cases cost too much and take too long. Worse still, the report indicates that the issue has grown more serious over time.
According to the report, which was released in May, the average medical malpractice lawsuit in Ontario takes more than seven years to be resolved in court or nearly five years to reach settlement. Meanwhile the total cost of medical malpractice cases increased 700 per cent (not adjusted for inflation) between 1990 and 2015.
“As medical liability costs rise, the cost of medical liability protection necessarily rises,” wrote Goudge. “This, and concerns about the length of time required for individuals to obtain compensation for injuries due to medical mistakes, suggest that changes to the medical liability aspect of the civil justice system may be needed to ensure the long-term viability of the way medical liability protection is presently provided in Ontario.”
From the perspective of medical malpractice lawyers, the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) bears at least partial responsibility for the difficulties facing injured patients. The CMPA has long been accused of employing “scorched earth” defence practices, including leveraging its multi-billion-dollar war chest to price potential plaintiffs out of lawsuits.
“The vigorous defence of medical malpractice cases by the CMPA ensures that it is not economic to take on cases that do not involve the most serious injuries. Victims with claims less than $250,000 find it hard to get an experienced lawyer,” Ontario Trial Lawyers Association president Claire Wilkinson told the Toronto Star.
“The time it takes to settle even the clearest of cases is just too long for innocent patients,” she added. “Denied compensation for years, these individuals don’t get the care they need.”
Adding insult to injury is the fact that CMPA legal fees have been subsidized by Ontario taxpayers since 1987. As of 2014, Ontarians contributed almost $200-million per year to the CMPA’s total fee bill, or 81 per cent of the total. In effect, individuals who have been injured through medical malpractice are paying for their doctor’s defence.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of an act of medical negligence, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free consultation. Our team has been defending injured Ontarians for decades, and can advise you on the viability of your claim.