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First, count all the lawyers.

The study in "Legal Debate: Assumptions on medical malpractice called into question" (SN: 5/13/06, p. 291) fails to address the more disturbing issue: Most of the insurance money (apparently) goes to lawyers (both sides), and very little to those injured.

PETER WILSON, SIMI VALLEY, CALIF.

The numbers in the story pose a question. First, one reads that "about 85 percent of [1,4052] cases were settled out of court, and plaintiffs lost four-fifths of those that did go to trial." This means that about 175 cases went to court and failed. Two paragraphs later, we learn that "236 plaintiffs who did suffer an injury from medical error received no compensation." The question: Did 61 cases settle out of court for no compensation?

FRED RAMSEY, CORVALLIS, ORE.

According to the study, plaintiffs' attorneys typically received a standard contingency fee of 35 percent of the indemnity (insurance) payment, if one was made. And it's true that 236 plaintiffs who suffered real injury traceable to medical error received no compensation. Of those, 170 plaintiffs lost in court and 66 just dropped their case at some point, the researchers say.
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Author:Seppa, N.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 22, 2006
Words:188
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