Where is the most expensive place to defend oneself against malpractice in 2004? Florida is tops and Wyoming is the least expensive.
Using data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners who collect most insurance company annual statement data electronically and the Bureau of the Census, I calculated the per capita premiums written, the per capita losses incurred, and the per capita defense costs incurred for medical malpractice.
New York ranks number 1 in terms of losses incurred per capita. Losses incurred are the losses paid plus additions to reserves for future expected losses during the reporting year. New York's losses incurred per capita were $76.25 while the second place state (DC) had a $56.08 per capita loss incurred. Washington, DC also had the highest per capita premiums in the U.S and the fourth highest defense costs incurred.
On the lower end we see that Mississippi, South Carolina, and Wyoming ranked at the bottom for one of the three indicators. Just to provide an idea of the difference in costs between the highest and the lowest state:
Premiums per capita $84.99 (DC and SC)
Loss incurred per capita $47.01 (NY and WY)
Defense costs $14.60 (FL and MS)
To be fair, the defense costs really depend upon the complexity of the cases in a given year, but they do provide a general indication (especially over time) of the legal environment.
See where your state ranks here.
Update: Ted Frank noticed an error (since corrected) in the defense cost number. Also he points out that I ranked the U.S. average like a state and I did so one could see where an indivial state ranked compared to the average. Thus, there are 52 ranked entities and one of them is the US average.