South Dakota’s Argus Leader reported on August 2, 2019 that South Dakota medical malpractice payouts on behalf of South Dakota health care providers increased to more than $3.5 million in 2018 (an increased of $1,092,500 from 2017) yet South Dakota’s largest medical malpractice insurer reported more than $9.8 million in premiums in 2018 and negative losses in the amount of minus $2.3 million, meaning that its profits from its South Dakota medical malpractice insurance business were enormous.
Minnesota-based MMIC Ins Inc reported for 2018 premiums earned in the amount of $9,835,529, direct losses incurred in the amount of minus $2,345,856, and a pure direct loss ration of minus 23.8508%. MMIC Ins Inc holds a 78.2964% market share of medical malpractice insurance policies written in South Dakota. Of the 50 medical malpractice insurers that reported to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, Division of Insurance, direct premiums written for South Dakota medical malpractice insurance policies in 2018 were $12,712,469, direct losses incurred were minus $1,430,885, and the pure direct loss ratio was minus 11.3022%.
According to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, South Dakota was the most profitable state for medical malpractice insurers in 2018 when measured by losses to premiums earned.
South Dakota experienced medical malpractice payouts for sixteen claims in 2018, ranging from a low of $1,690 to a high of $850,000 (these medical malpractice payouts do not include amounts that may have been paid by health care providers to settle medical malpractice claims).
In 2014, South Dakota medical malpractice insurers paid nearly $11 million with regard to 27 settlements, the largest of which was $3 million. In 2015, there were 18 South Dakota medical malpractice payouts reported, which totalled $6.4 million. In 2016, there were 12 South Dakota medical malpractice payouts reported, which totalled $1.8 million.
The South Dakota Legislature passed so-called medical malpractice tort reforms in 1976, capping South Dakota medical malpractice noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, at $500,000, which cap has not increased since then (if the cap had increased to take into consideration inflation, the cap would presently be in excess of $2 million).
The South Dakota law on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases states:
21-3-11. Limitation on damages for medical malpractice. In any action for damages for personal injury or death alleging malpractice against any physician licensed pursuant to chapter 36-4, chiropractor, optometrist, podiatrist, dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, hospital, critical access hospital, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, or physician’s assistant, or against the practitioner’s corporate, limited liability partnership, or limited liability company employer based upon the acts or omissions of the practitioner, under the laws of this state, whether taken through the court system or by binding arbitration, the total general damages which may be awarded may not exceed the sum of five hundred thousand dollars. There is no limitation on the amount of special damages which may be awarded. This section applies only to causes of action arising from injuries or death occurring after July 1, 1976. However, in the case of chiropractors, it applies only to the causes of action arising from injuries or death occurring after July 1, 1978. In the case of optometrists, it applies only to causes of action arising from injuries or death occurring after July 1, 2002. In the case of podiatrists, it applies only to causes of action arising from injuries or death occurring after July 1, 2005.
Source SL 1976, ch 154, §§ 1, 2; SL 1978, ch 154; SL 1985, ch 167; SL 1986, ch 172; SL 1997, ch 123, § 2; SL 2002, ch 99, § 1; SL 2005, ch 119, § 1; SL 2017, ch 171, § 50.
If you or a loved one may have suffered serious harm as a result of medical negligence in South Dakota or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in South Dakota or in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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