Although this may sound like “tough love”, if you feel that you need or want to bring suit against your doctor because he or she injured you or a loved one, and your family or friends are giving your grief about it, maybe it’s time to think about whether they really have your best interests at heart. If bringing suit is something you feel that you need to do to pay for lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, or just to regain some sense of control over the situation, your good friends and family will eventually come to understand and stick by your side.
I had the same issue after my daughter passed from medical harm. I did at one point have a signed contract with an attorney. He had a friend in the medical field that he felt could review her 2,500 pages of medical records. However, when his friend explained that because she was an infant who went in for heart surgery, you'd require two specialists to review my daughter’s chart and testify. I was told it would cost roughly $50,000 to $75,000 per specialist. This doesn't include normal costs for the attorney. It didn't take long for the attorney to send me a letter stating he couldn't help me. I added that letter to the other dozen all stating we had a good case, but the financial limits made it impossible for them to take it. It was business.
In most cases where the other party was clearly at fault, the injured party will receive at least some compensation for their pain and suffering. Most insurance companies recognize that people who are injured in a car accident deserve something for their pain and inconvenience. Often, the amount insurance carriers try to get away with, at first, is very low. But with proper attorney representation, this number can be increased to reach an acceptable sum.
There are rare occasions where doctors or other medical service providers will admit they have made a mistake and will seek to come to some kind of settlement with an injured party. Tread lightly in these situations, as you may be trading a quick resolution for a substantially lower amount of compensation. However, in cases that are not particularly serious -- specifically, cases worth $20,000 or less -- you may find that settling directly with a doctor is possible.
Providing a range can also be beneficial in allowing the jury to make the determination as to what the final number will be. Your attorney can then ask the jury, “what is missing out on an activity you loved to do with your spouse worth weekly? $5? $25? $100?” If that person is 40 years old at the time of the crash and is expected to live another 42 years, the price for that loss over a lifetime ranges from $10,920 to $218,400. Presenting multiple stories from different witnesses demonstrating the extent of your pain and suffering damages and including a monetary range for each will allow the jury a viable opportunity to compensate you for that loss.
The loser of a lawsuit has to pay some of the successful party’s legal fees. So patients who are already struggling financially because of a medical error may be reluctant to take on the financial risk, says Susan McIver, author of After the Error. “It’s a real David-and-Goliath situation … Plaintiffs risk losing their homes and life savings when going up against an organization with deep pockets filled to a significant extent by taxpayers’ money.”
In most states, first responders in a medical emergency situation (such as an EMT or a firefighter) are protected from lawsuits unless the first responder does something reckless or intentional. This protection for first responders does not apply to emergency rooms in hospitals, although in some states an emergency room doctor must act with gross negligence to be held liable for harm that occurs before the patient is stabilized.
Loss of consortium refers to the impact the injury has had on the injured party’s ability to provide love, affection, companionship, or services. People often think that loss of consortium refers to the impact the injury has had on a married couple’s sexual relationship. But it’s broader than that. Many states now allow children and parents, in addition to spouses, to bring loss of consortium claims. Note that the person who would sue for loss of consortium is the spouse, parent or child of the person who was injured.
Plaintiffs can also sue for the negligent infliction of severe emotional distress that they experienced because of someone else’s injury. This types of suit occur sometimes when a person has to witness the injury or death of a loved one caused by another person’s negligence. However, to succeed on such a claim one must be able to prove that their distress was an immediate and foreseeable result of the defendant’s behavior. In addition, the plaintiff generally must physically witness the accident in order to be able to recover for this type of claim.
In order to have a malpractice claim, your medical professional must have acted negligently. This is to say that your doctor failed to treat you with a standard of care. A standard of care is the agreed upon method or methods employed by medical providers in the given geographic area for a condition or illness. This standard changes depending on a number of factors, including the age of the patient and the condition being treated.