Medical Malpractice and the American Jury

Confronting the Myths about Jury Incompetence, Deep Pockets, and Outrageous Damage Awards
Neil Vidmar
Returns the verdict on the performance of medical malpractice juries


In this landmark book, Neil Vidmar looks beyond the common perceptions of medical malpractice litigation and finds a system that is fair, impartial, and intelligent. Firmly grounded in a wealth of empirical data, the author presents a fresh look at a civil jury system that has been maligned as out-of-touch, capricious, and disposed to awarding exorbitant, unjustified amounts to plaintiffs whenever they have the opportunity. In an era when tort reform is high on the congressional agenda, Medical Malpractice and the American Jury is almost alone in voicing reason and fact.

Written in a thoroughly inviting, jargon-free style, Medical Malpractice and the American Jury places those cases that go to trial in the broader context of litigation, noting that only about ten percent of malpractice cases ever result in trials. Of those that do go to trial, the author notes, more than two out of three cases are decided in the doctor's favor—repudiating the view that jurors are inherently biased against doctors and are motivated more by sympathy for the plaintiff than by the facts of the case.

Neil Vidmar comprehensively addresses all the claims that have been leveled against the performance of malpractice juries. For example, he compares actual jury decisions on negligence with neutral physicians' ratings of whether negligence occurred in the medical treatment and finds a remarkable consistency—repudiating the view that jurors are unable to understand experts or uncritically defer to their opinion.

Neil Vidmar is Professor of Social Science and Law, Duke Law School, and Professor of Psychology, Duke University.

Praise / Awards

  • "This book should be read by every student of medical malpractice. Professor Vidmar does a good job of defending malpractice juries against the charge that they provide cheap, debased justice. In the process, however, he adds evidence to what may be a more serious indictment: that medical malpractice jury trials are a luxury that we cannot afford."
  • "Neil Vidmar's recent book brings his fine work on jury behavior and medical malpractice litigation to a broader audience. Vidmar weaves together jury verdict and closed claim data, case studies, interviews with lawyers and liability insurers and the results of simulation experiments to produce a rich tapestry that depicts an intricate portrait of the workings of the medical malpractice component of our civil justice system."
    Law and Politics Book Review
  • "Trial lawyers will find the many reports of juror interviews fascinating. Even the most experienced practitioner will learn something from them. More important, the implications of Vidmar's work for the medical negligence 'tort reform' debate are profound. The book undermines many of the justifications that have been used to restrict or eliminate medical plaintiffs' rights. . . . Medical Malpractice and the American Jury is quite simply the most compelling, comprehensive examination oft he American jury system yet written. It brings reason and fact to the debate in a way that puts the lie to the many myths surrounding medical negligence cases. For anyone genuinely interested in just solutions, this book should be required reading. To act in ignorance of its findings invites disaster."
  • "For anyone really interested in the evidence about the daily grind of the courthouse mill, Neil Vidmar's Medical Malpractice and the American Jury is a good place to start."
    Washington Post Book World

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 336pp.
  • 4 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08479-1

Add to Cart
  • $34.95 U.S.