Trial Update: Looking Ahead to 2023

Trial Results - Looking Ahead to 2023Doubling Down on Winning Strategies

The COVID-19 pandemic threw the U.S. court system into disarray for months, but a “new normal” emerged in 2022, with all courts catching up on backlogs—some with remote-only hearings still. Last year, Physicians Insurance/MedChoice tried 10 cases across California, Oregon, and Washington, defending 20 Members. Our successes contributed to a win rate of more than 96% during the last 10 years.

We expect litigation activity to tick upward nationwide in 2023, with some trends in play. One we’ve been watching for several years is social inflation and its impact on juries. Social inflation is a term that refers to forces that drive up the cost of insurance claims due to factors beyond just inflation. It can be unpredictable and reflects society’s shifting perspective on who should be accountable for certain risks and how society should value them. A few examples of factors that influence social inflation are:

  • Jury members’ desire to express their values and effect change through damage awards
  • Broader definitions of liability/reversals in tort reform
  • Shifting social attitudes about medicine, healthcare, and corporate America

These influences on judge and jury behavior make a robust defense more critical than ever. That’s why Physician Insurance/MedChoice continues to invest significant resources toward defense, with proven solutions that reflect our commitment to fully support Members who are facing a malpractice claim. Though some carriers reserve these resources only for high-dollar cases, we see the value in offering complete support for all claims.

For example, we maintain lower-than-average caseloads so that our claims representatives can deliver on our service expectations. And as soon as a claims representative receives a notification of a lawsuit, we assemble a team tailored to the Member’s circumstances and needs. Throughout the process, we offer litigation support and peer support as needed to help our Members cope with any stress or uncertainty they might feel. 

Plus, our coverage includes stipends for Members to compensate them for their time during their trial. We’ve increased our use of focus groups that mimic jury scenarios to gauge reactions and identify unexpected pitfalls. And we enlist the appropriate number of witnesses to testify on a Member’s behalf. Our claims representatives continue to attend all trials alongside our defendants, and we provide extensive trial preparation for Members through our defense counsel. 

Last but not least, the Physicians Insurance Policyholder and Claims Committee formally reviews the most significant claims facing trial. This committee—in place since our company’s inception in 1981—consists of 18 physician-leaders from a wide range of specialties. These physicians review the care delivered in each claim, then share their expertise and insights. The committee’s insights ensure that a physician’s perspective remains at the center of our work. Effective 2/1/23, our MedChoice RRG cases now also go through this formal review process.

No matter how the litigation landscape continues to evolve, Physicians Insurance/MedChoice will be ready to meet professional liability challenges on behalf of our Members. We look forward to even more success in 2023.