Musing on a claim that I settled a week or so ago. The matter was settled within 45 minutes, via pre-trial settlement discussions at Court supervised mediation. The claim concerned complications following a hysterectomy.
The allegations of negligence related to the gynaecologist’s failure to discuss alternatives to hysterectomy for control of our client’s pre-menopausal heavy periods.
In the last couple of years, this has been our most common type of claim – hysterectomy remains a medical procedure with a relatively high frequency of serious complication. These days there are a whole range of conservative alternatives to seek to treat heavy bleeding type symptoms for women.
The settlement was a good result for the client in what was an indefensible case.
I was reflecting however on how we had written to the relevant medical insurer 12 months ago, before any court proceedings were commenced, suggesting early settlement discussion, because of the claim’s relatively modest size (<$50,000 – thankfully our client made a good recovery after a fairly torrid initial post-surgery period) and the strength of the negligence allegations.
I can say with certainty that if such approach had been pursued by the insurer, the claim could have been resolved on precisely the terms negotiated this week, at that time.
The benefits of this are clear. A saving of legal costs for both sides (ultimately largely borne by the insurer), saving of Court resources on the dispute and the therapeutic advantages for my client of any earlier resolution, without the fight.
This is clearly a problem being grappled with internationally.