July 23, 2013

162017_132140396847214_292624_nMany people have heard malpractice lawyer jokes or digs against malpractice lawyers. Most of these same people mindlessly laugh when they hear these jokes, because they do not know any malpractice attorneys, they have no idea how malpractice lawyers are the protectors of the innocent and helpless victims of malpractice, or they have accepted the powerful health care industry’s two-prong fear-mongering attacks about (1) how “frivolous lawsuits” against hard-working doctors are causing unnecessary increases in the costs of medical care and (2) that physicians are abandoning their medical practices in droves because they cannot afford to pay their ever-increasing medical malpractice insurance premiums. And let’s not forget the health care industry’s mantra that physicians’ fears of being unjustifiably named as a medical malpractice defendant in a “frivolous” malpractice claim (there’s that often-repeated, favorite word of the medical community again) leads to unnecessary and costly medical testing.

Malpractice lawyers are facing increasing barriers to bringing meritorious medical malpractice cases on behalf of their severely and permanently injured medical malpractice clients. Uncontested incidents of medical negligence that clearly caused the devastating harms suffered by the innocent victims of malpractice are nonetheless defended vigorously and at great expense to the victims of malpractice (which we call being victimized twice) by medical malpractice insurance companies that will do everything within their power to protect their outlandish profits by not paying meritorious claims.

The enormous health care industry in the United States, which is unconditionally supported by medical malpractice insurance companies, has deviously plotted to protect the financial interests of negligent medical providers by diluting their personal responsibility for negligently causing harm to their patients. They attack the unfortunate victims of medical malpractice by unjustly labeling their efforts to obtain fair compensation for their losses as “frivolous.” They pay their lobbyists enormous amounts of money to bend the ears of state legislators to convince them that “the sky is falling” because physicians will flee their states for other states if they fail to enact so-called medical malpractice “reforms,” which keeps money in the pockets of the insurance companies and the doctors and other health care providers they insure. Such “reforms” include arbitrary, capricious limits (caps) on the amount of non-economic damages that the most seriously and permanently injured victims of medical malpractice may recover as compensation for the devastating harms they must endure for the rest of their lives, despite the reasoned determination of juries from their communities that established the losses to be much higher than the cap – such as the $250,000 cap in California, Kansas, and Texas. Many state legislatures distrust their own constituents who serve on their juries as evidenced by the laws they enact that prohibit their juries from being advised about caps on non-economic damages or that their reasoned verdicts will be given no effect above the cap.

The caps on non-economic damages further harm the innocent victims of medical malpractice, especially in states with very low caps, because it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to find a medical malpractice attorney willing to represent them in their meritorious malpractice claims because the enormous costs in both time and necessary litigation expenses prohibit lawyers from accepting the smaller malpractice cases.

The costs incurred by medical malpractice lawyers and their clients in pursuing medical malpractice lawsuits have also skyrocketed as a result of laws enacted in many U.S. states that have narrowed, restricted, or limited the availability of medical professionals who are qualified to testify as their experts in medical malpractice cases. Recently enacted state laws that require that experts be Board-certified in the same specialty or subspecialty as the defendant, and other restrictive requirements, limit the experts available to malpractice victims, thereby substantially increasing the expense of hiring these experts (the law of supply and demand). It is not unheard of for qualified experts in specialized medical fields to charge malpractice lawyers upwards of $2,500 per hour for their services.

The well-funded, well-organized, and laser-like focus of the U.S. health care industry to highly restrict or eliminate the rights of malpractice victims to obtain fair and just compensation for their losses from those medical providers whose negligence caused them severe and permanent injuries is resulting in malpractice lawyers giving up their representation of malpractice victims because the economics of representing them does not permit them to continue the representation. When Texas imposed its $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, it became nearly impossible for Texas malpractice victims to find a medical malpractice attorney to assist them with their claims. It became clear to physicians and other medical providers in Texas that they could unnecessarily harm their patients with little or no financial consequences. Where will malpractice victims turn for justice when malpractice lawyers are no longer available to them for help in obtaining fair and adequate compensation for the harms they suffered at the hands of negligent medical providers?

Perhaps we should consider placing bumper stickers on our vehicles that say, “Have You Hugged Your Malpractice Lawyer Today?” to show our appreciation for their efforts on behalf of the innocent victims of medical malpractice negligence before they go the way of the dinosaurs.

If you need to find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state, click here to visit our website or telephone us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim (before its too late!).

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