Wisconsin Medical Malpractice Information

  • What is the average medical malpractice settlement in Wisconsin?

    The average medical malpractice payment in Wisconsin for 2022 was $402,240. Going back to 2004, the average malpractice payment in the database is $377,492.

  • How many medical malpractice settlements have there been in Wisconsin?

    In 2022, there were 52 medical malpractice payments made in Wisconsin. Among all of the various jurisdictions, this ranked number 38 out of 59 in terms of raw numbers, but when viewed in terms of claims per capita, Wisconsin ranked number 52 of 59, which includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Armed Forces populations.

  • What is the most common type of medical malpractice claim in Wisconsin?

    Across the country, the most common allegations giving rise to medical malpractice payments are "Failure to Diagnose" and "Improper Performance." Wisconsin is among those jurisdictions for which the top allegation appearing in the database is "Improper Performance." The second most frequent allegation appearing for Wisconsin in the database is "Failure to Diagnose."

  • Which type of healthcare provider pays the most medical malpractice claims in Wisconsin?

    Among all claims, the vast majority (about 70%) of the payments are associated with care provided by MDs. Wisconsin is no exception. The second highest type of healthcare provider associated with malpractice claims in Wisconsin is a dentist.

A few notes about this: The database only shows which claims were paid and does not include claims that were presented but rejected. Also, the database does not include payments by non-providers like health systems and hospitals. There are also some number of claims that go unreported each year. Finally, the information contained in the reports is self-reported by the providers, their insurance companies, and other provider representatives.
Wisconsin Medical Malpractice Payment Amounts By Year
Wisconsin Medical Malpractice Payments By Year

Damage Cap

Wisconsin has a $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Wis. Stat. 893.55(4). The cap does not apply to other personal injury claims.

Non-economic harms generally refers to pain and suffering damages. In a case where a woman lost all four limbs and was awarded $15M in non-economic damages. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin upheld the damages cap that reduced her recovery to $750,000. Mayo v. Wis. Injured Patients & Families Comp. Fund, 914 N.W.2d 678 (Wis. 2018)

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations in Wisconsin is generally three years from the date of injury. For injuries that are discovered later in time, Wisconsin allows up to one year from the date of discovery to bring a claim, subject to a five-year limit from the negligent treatment itself.

Injured Patient and Families Compensation Fund

One of the tort reform measures adopted in Wisconsin that practitioners need to be aware of is "the Fund." The Fund has been in place since 1975 and it provides excess coverage to medical providers beyond an initial $1M of insurance coverage.

Plaintiffs seeking damages in excess of $1M must name the Fund as a defendant. The Fund will be represented during the litigation with its own counsel and retain its own experts.

The 2022 report reflects that the Fund has grown to $1.3 billion in assets as of June 30, 2021. From its inception in 1975 to 2021, the Fund had paid 684 claims. It notes that the bulk of its payments are focused on a small minority of claims: 478 of the claims account for 17.5 percent of the total payment amount while 48 payments in excess of $5M represent almost half of the payment amount over that period.

The Fund includes a table in its annual report documenting the twelve payments it has made in excess of $10M. The largest was a $34.3 Million payment for a negligent blood transfusion that caused cardiac arrest and brain damage. This case occurred in 2003 and included $11.5 M in noneconomic harms that would be reduced under current Wisconsin law to $750,000. As evidence of the NPDB's limitations, this malpractice payment is not reflected in the database. Perhaps this lawsuit was not critical of one single practitioner and was described as a failure on the part of the hospital or clinic.

The Largest Medical Malpractice Payments for Wisconsin (2004-2022)

YearStateAmountAllegationFull Report
2010Wisconsin$22,500,000Failure to Identify Fetal Distress
2009Wisconsin$18,500,000Improper Management
2010Wisconsin$16,500,000Improper Technique
2021Wisconsin$11,500,000Failure to Treat Fetal Distress
2007Wisconsin$10,500,000Failure to Identify Fetal Distress
2006Wisconsin$9,950,000Failure to Treat Fetal Distress
2019Wisconsin$9,450,000Failure to Diagnose
2008Wisconsin$9,050,000Improper Performance
2014Wisconsin$8,950,000Failure to Diagnose
2019Wisconsin$8,850,000Failure to Identify Fetal Distress

Wisconsin Statistics at a Glance

Average Payment (2004-2022): $377,492

Total Payments in Database (2004-2022): 1,451

Average Payment (2022): $402,240

Total Number of Payments (2022): 52

Rank in Average Payment (2022): 24

Rank in Number of Payments Per Capita (2022): 52 of 59 Jurisdictions

Most Common Allegation (2022): Improper Performance

Most Common Allegation in 2021: Improper Performance

Most Common Nature of Claim (2022): Treatment Related - 47% of all payments

Type of Provider with Most Payments: Physician (MD)

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