Medical Mutual Insurance Company of Maine (“Medical Mutual”), the dominant medical malpractice insurance company in Maine that insures approximately 3,000 Maine physicians as well as more than 20 Maine hospitals (about 63% of the medical malpractice insurance market in Maine), announced earlier this year its largest dividend, in the amount of $5 million.
Late last month, Medical Mutual advised its insureds that they would be receiving an average net rate reduction in their insurance premiums in the amount of 3.2%, effective for renewals and new policies as of September 1, 2014. This most recent rate reduction is the fourth for its insureds since 2008 (10.8% in 2008, 5% in 2010, and 1.3% in 2011) – since 2005, the medical malpractice insurance rates charged by Medical Mutual to its insureds have been reduced by almost 20%.
Medical Mutual credits the rate reductions to the decrease in medical malpractice claims against its insureds, who Medical Mutual stated are “providing high quality care and emphasizing patient safety within” their practices.
Medical Mutual reports that it paid less than 200 claims in 2013, compared to a high of 434 claims paid in 2003. (The National Practitioner Data Bank reports that 53 medical malpractice payments were made in Maine in 2013, which was up from 44 in 2010; the National Practitioner Data Bank further reports that the number of adverse actions reports that it received from Maine was 227 in 2013, which was a decrease from 255 in 2012 and from 292 in 2011.)
While Medical Mutual believes that the favorable decrease in its medical malpractice claims experience is attributable to better care provided by its insured physicians and other health care providers, Maine medical malpractice lawyers who represent medical malpractice victims contend that many meritorious medical malpractice claims in Maine are not being pursued because medical malpractice tort reforms in Maine are slanted in favor of physicians that also double the litigation costs for Maine medical malpractice victims – increased costs of pursuing medical malpractice cases due to tort reforms result in the smaller yet highly meritorious medical malpractice claims being left without a remedy because medical malpractice lawyers who represent medical malpractice victims are less likely to invest massive amounts of their time, and advance ever-increasing costs and expenses incurred in litigating medical malpractice claims, in pursuing medical malpractice cases in Maine.
The public policy issue that must be re-examined in Maine is whether the medical malpractice reforms that were first passed into law in 1986, which have resulted in less medical malpractice claims and have reduced medical malpractice insurance costs for Maine physicians and other health care providers, have caused unanticipated, unfair, and unjust harms to the victims of medical negligence in Maine.
If Maine physicians who breach the standard of care in treating their patients who thereby suffer permanent and substantial injuries are allowed to escape responsibility for their wrongful acts and omissions, then what incentive do Maine physicians have to improve the medical care they provide and refrain from causing needless harm to their patients?
If you or a family member were injured (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Maine or in another U.S. state, you should promptly consult with a Maine medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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