The preliminary numbers are in for 2010 and demonstrate that the statute providing for the giving of notice and filing a certificate of good faith has dramatically decreased the number of medical malpractice filings in Tennessee. The new law came in to effect on October 1, 2008 and was modified effective July 1, 2009.
You may remember that for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2008, 644 medical malpractice lawsuits were filed in Tennessee. A whooping 140 of those were filed in September 2008, some of which were filed as lawyers took action to avoid the burden and risks of filing cases under the new law.
For the year ending September 30, 2009, the first year that the new law was in effect, available data indicates that only 263 medical malpractice lawsuits had been filed. Because there were a larger-than-usual number of filings before the new law came into effect, it is fair to say that filings were lower than one would expect in an ordinary year.
The filings for the year ending September 30, 2010 give us a much more accurate view of how the new law has impacted medical malpractice filings. Why? First, one year’s data on any subject is almost always less reliable than two years of data on the subject. Second, lawyers who handle medical malpractice cases have a growing familiarity with the law and thus by now have achieved sufficient comfort with the burdens placed by new law that filings should be leveling out.
So, what is the result? For the 12-month period ending September 30, 2010, a total of 313 medical malpractice cases were filed in Tennessee. This tells us that filings are down somewhere in the neighborhood at least 40 %, depending on how one views the September 2008 filings. For instance, if one assumes that if the new law had not been passed there would have been an equal number of cases filing in September 2008 that had been filed, on average, in the 11 preceding months (45 per month), then 2010 filings are down by 222 cases, or 40.7%.
Tomorrow I will share additional data.
Note: the "313" filing figure may be adjusted slightly in coming weeks. Several counties have not yet reported filings, but all of the major counties have reported their filings.