There are some people who think that a big problem in the health care industry is just too many lawsuits leaving poor old doctors penniless after they’ve been run through the litigation ringer by a trial lawyer. Well, it turns out that assertion is completely false.
In an analysis published on the Archives of Internal Medicine website on May 14, 2012, researchers presented data showing that defendents (e.g., doctors) won nearly 80 percent of medical malpractice cases that went to trial.
Further, cases decided in favor of the defendants lasted an average of 39 months — longer than 3 years. When plaintiffs, the injured patients, prevailed, malpractice cases continued for an average of 43.5 months before being decided.. You might point to those numbers and say it’s the medical malpractice plaintiff’s lawyer whose at fault for that. As a medical negligence attorney who has handled these types of cases for more than 30 years, I can assure you that a plaintiff’s attorney is not looking to drag out a case.
The goal of a plaintiff’s lawyer is to advocate for their injured client and try to secure damages that will properly compensate their client for lost wages, medical expenses, and the decrease in quality of life associated with their injury. I can’t think of any medical malpractice lawyers who are eager to spend 3 years in trial on a single case.
The culprit of lengthy trials is usually the insurance defense lawyers (i.e. the lawyers hired by the doctor’s malpractice insurance carrier). A common strategy in medical malpractice and surgical error cases is for the defense lawyer to drag their feet, make unnecessary motions and fight tooth and nail to stall any resolution that favors the patient. They do this to drain the plaintiff’s lawyer of resources and to intimidate the plaintiff into taking a lowball settlement offer.
People may soon understand that: the health care industry is not inundated with frivolous lawsuits, doctors are not losing their shirts in litigation, and lawyers representing victims from medical mistakes are not to blame for making medical malpractice case drag on for years.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.