The Resolution Process and the Timing of Settlement of Medical Malpractice Claims

Samantha Bielen (Hasselt University)
Peter Grajzl (Washington and Lee University)
Wim Marneffe (Hasselt University)

Abstract: We draw on uniquely detailed micro-level data from a Belgian professional medical liability insurer to examine how different procedural and legal events that take place during the unfolding of a medical malpractice claim influence the timing of its settlement. Utilizing the competing risks regression framework, we find that settlement hazard is all else equal statistically significantly positively associated with the completion of those procedural and legal events that most effectively reveal factual information about the underlying medical malpractice case. Consistent with theory, settlement hazard is either unassociated or even negatively associated with the completion of other procedural and legal events. Our analysis therefore provides policy insights into which aspects of the resolution process could be emphasized, and which de-emphasized, in order to reduce the often excessive duration of medical malpractice claims and its adverse effects on the healthcare system.