July 4th, Independence Day in the United States, is the national holiday when we celebrate the birth of the United States and our precious Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence states, in part: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
“all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”
When its comes to the rights of medical malpractice victims in the United States, it is becoming increasing evident that not all men and women are created equal: medical malpractice victims’ rights to seek and obtain justice by being fairly and fully compensated for the harms they have suffered as a result of the medical negligence committed by their health care providers are being increasing restricted, limited, and impinged on by governmental actions, such as laws passed in many states that cap (limit) the amount of compensation that the most seriously injured victims of medical malpractice may seek and obtain; laws passed that make it more difficult to seek justice through the courts, such as restrictions on those who may serve as medical experts on behalf of medical malpractice victims; laws enacted to protect negligent medical practitioners, such as requirements that medical malpractice victims obtain and file certificates of merit from medical experts before they may file their civil claims seeking compensation for the medical harms they have suffered; laws encroaching on our fundamental right to have civil disagreements decided by unbiased juries, such as statutorily-created medical review panels that pre-screen and pre-determine medical malpractice claims; laws that the raise the burden of proof (the evidentiary hurdles that litigants must overcome) for medical malpractice victims, from preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing evidence, under certain circumstances; laws that provide special treatment for negligent medical providers under specified circumstances, such as protections from being sued for medical negligence when the care provided was under emergency situations; laws that provide certain medical providers with immunity from being held accountable for causing avoidable injuries to innocent medical malpractice victims, such as state-run or charitable hospitals and other medical facilities; laws that keep innocent medical malpractice victims in the dark as to the circumstances and causes of their unexpected injuries, such as preventing victims and their attorneys from obtaining the results of relevant investigations of the bad medical outcomes undertaken by special healthcare committees and other groups assigned the task of improving patent safety; etc.
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
What concerns us is that most people sit idly by while their rights and the rights of other potential victims of medical malpractice (no one expects, or can predict, if or when they, their family members, or their loved ones may become the innocent victims of medical negligence that destroy their futures, and the futures of their families) are being trampled on by those wielding governmental powers. Medical malpractice victims are a diverse group and many have nothing in common with other medical malpractice victims except that they were harmed by substandard medical care. On the other hand, the members of the health care industry (doctors, hospitals, medical malpractice insurance companies, and others) share a common financial interest in limiting their financial exposure for their carelessness and negligence in treating patients. They also have the incentive and political will to organize and press state governments for favorable laws that harm medical malpractice victims, and they have the financial assets to hire lobbyists, public relations firms, and to engage in organized propaganda to seek and obtain special laws that treat them more favorably than others.
Independence Day 2015 should be a reminder for all of us that we must stand up to our state representatives and state governments to insist that the Scales of Justice held by Lady Liberty are re-balanced, and that medical malpractice victims and the medical providers who harmed them are treated equally under our laws.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.