What's an Apology Worth? Decomposing the Effect of Apologies on Medical Malpractice Payments Using State Apology Laws
University of Houston
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 8, pp. 179-199, 2011
Past studies find that apologies affect the outcomes of medical malpractice litigation, but such studies have largely been limited to laboratory surveys or case studies. Following Ho and Liu (2010), we use the passage of state‐level apology laws that exclude apologies from being used as evidence in medical malpractice cases, and estimate that apologizing to a patient in cases of medical malpractice litigation reduces the average payout by $32,000. This article seeks to unpack the mechanism of apologies by examining the differential impact of apologies laws by various subsamples. We find that apologies are most valuable for cases involving obstetrics and anesthesia, for cases involving infants, and for cases involving improper management by the physician and failures to diagnose.
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