Wrongful Death – Personal Injury – Frivolous lawsuits Are Not The Issue – Carelessness Is.

January 3, 2012

We have heard so many tales of woes about how medical malpractice lawsuits are ruining the medical health of this country by making healthcare expensive for all and by causing the exodus of doctors from the so-called “judicial hellholes” (of which Illinois is supposedly one) toward States where there are limits on justice that a victim of a doctor’s carelessness can hope to obtain.

The problem with that proposition is that it is simply not true. What causes medical malpractice lawsuits are not patients and/or juries and their verdicts or lack of caps on those verdicts, but medical malpractice. The best way to prevent a lawsuit based on medical malpractice is to not commit carelessness.

Note that here, we are not talking about things that may go wrong in the natural progression of a treatment: there are times when a treatment goes wrong through no fault of the medical provider and/or the attending physician. Things may go wrong because Medicine is an art. What we are talking about here are actual damages caused to individuals that are the direct result of carelessness–that is different from simply not getting the intended result. For example, damages that could cause for failure of a doctor to simply read objective tests that are performed and that are ready to be reviewed but the doctor simply decides not to avail himself f the useful information those tests provides him. That is when medical malpractice lawsuits may be expected.

NYT: Doctors at Harlem Hospital Didn’t See Most Reports

Nearly 4,000 tests for heart disease performed over the last three years at Harlem Hospital Center – more than half of all such tests performed – were never read by doctors charged with making a diagnosis, hospital officials acknowledged Tuesday.
The echocardiogram tests, a type of ultrasound used to evaluate heart muscle and valve functions, were ordered by doctors at the hospital. The tests were stored on a computer and basically forgotten, officials said. The lapse occurred because the cardiology service at the hospital had developed a system by which technicians were given the responsibility to scan all tests and flag any that looked abnormal, so that they would be given priority when doctors read them.

It appears, officials said, that the tests that were not flagged were put aside and forgotten.

The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the public hospital system, including Harlem Hospital, and Columbia University, whose medical school supplies the cardiologists who work at Harlem Hospital Center, acknowledged the problem in a joint statement on Tuesday, after being asked about it by The New York Times.

“While the process the doctors followed may have alerted cardiologists to those echocardiograms that were most likely to be abnormal, the failure to read the echocardiograms in a timely manner is inexcusable and may have placed patients at risk,” Alan D. Aviles, hospitals corporation president, said in the statement. It was unclear who developed the screening system, hospital officials said.

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150 + Lawsuits Based On Injuries Caused by Yaz, Yasmine and Ocella

December 28, 2011

Special Segment: Birth Control Concerns

Patient Evangeline Semark Lemoine is coping with frustration. She says until about a year ago, she was a healthy person. But now, even simple activities with her family can be challenging.

“I don’t have the carefree lifestyle that I had,” she said.

The 32-year-old mom says she’s now on a powerful blood thinner after developing a dangerous blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis in her leg.

Evangeline says it left her unable to walk, and after a phone call, resulted in her doctor advising her to get to an emergency room.

“The first thing out of her mouth was, ‘Are you on a birth control pill?” and I said, ‘Yes,’ and she said, ‘You need to get to the ER right now.'”

Lemoine, now a plaintiff, and her attorney say dangerous clots were also found in her lungs. They’re suing Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, blaming her health problems on the birth control pill Ocella, which is the generic form of Yasmin.

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Case Value – The Value of Personal Injury Cases: A Jurisdictional Comparision

October 10, 2011

I found this post I had put up back in 2007 about a jurisdictional analysis of the value of personal injury cases and find it still relevant.

Although this data is a little dated (1994-2000), I thought it was interesting for lawyers in different jurisdictions to compare verdicts:

New York ……….. $275,000

South Dakota ….. $120,913

Minnesota ………. $111,488

New Jersey …….. $104,750

Pennsylvania …… $100,000

Louisiana ……….. $ 95,000

Georgia ………….. $ 12,000

Oklahoma ………. $ 10,282

Tennessee ……… $ 10,891

Arkansas ……….. $ 10,000

North Carolina …. $ 10,000

South Carolina ….$ 10,000

National overall … $ 45,000

This data is arguably misleading because to the varying thresholds to get to a jury trial in a particular jurisdiction. If a jurisdiction allows, or even requires, jury trials for cases where the plaintiff’s lawyer is seeking, for example, over $10,000, the awards are going to be a lot lower.

In Maryland, for example, where the average verdict in personal injuries cases is around $12,000, many small claim type personal injury cases find their way to Maryland juries. This is because defense lawyers in personal injury cases in Maryland have the ability to remove a case to the Circuit Court from the District Court (if the plaintiff seeks more than $10,000 but less than $25,000). Defense lawyers often do primarily to increase the burden on Maryland personal injury lawyers in jurisdictions where juries are less favorable (counties other than Baltimore and Prince George’s). Still, I think the data is interesting because it gives personal injury attorneys some idea of the jurisdictional differences.

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Truth is Our Ally… It Just Needs To Get out There

September 28, 2011

The Insurance Industry has consistently either directly or through proxies such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce provided half truths and untruths about the reason(s) for high premiums for malpractice insurance. All this while studies show that neither lawsuits nor verdicts have influenced high premiums. Instead, it is the Insurance Industry’s greed that has lead to these high premiums for the doctors.

At a news conference this afternoon, the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers called on state Insurance Commissioner Jim Long to conduct a hearing into rates charged by Medical Mutual Insurance Co. of North Carolina, which insures about 6,300 doctors statewide.

“It appears to us that they have crossed the legal threshold for having an excessive rate,” said Dick Taylor, the academy’s CEO. The academy argues that excessive rates are barred by state law.

For more than five years, the trial lawyers have engaged in a campaign to convince the public — and doctors, too — that the insurance companies, not malpractice lawsuits, are behind the rising cost of malpractice insurance. But until now the group hadn’t questioned the legality of medical malpractice rates or asked the insurance commissioner to step in.

In 2007 the trial lawyers unveiled an analysis by Jay Angoff, a lawyer and former insurance commissioner in Missouri, of Medical Mutual’s financial condition and performance from 2001 to 2006. The study was based on data submitted to the state Department of Insurance.

Angoff said the amount of claims paid by Medical Mutual has been “very stable” from year to year “while premiums have gone way up.”

Read on… Lawyers Want Malpractice Rates Studies

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Property Damage – Missing in Action is the Department of Insurance?

March 1, 2011

I have previously blogged about the Department of Insurance as being largely a paper tiger. Time after time I see evidence suggesting that the “paper-tiger” badge fits rather well as description for the Department of Insurance.

I have not seen anything else coming out State Farm’s practices as described in the article below, but I would be curious to know what measures, if any, the Department of Insurance decided to take and how the disputes were resolved.

State Farm’s Pattern of Deceit — Scruggs Katrina Group Blog

These e-mails reveal that State Farm, through Lecky King (the person that was in charge of all State Farm adjustments on the Mississippi Gulf Coast), pressured and coerced engineering firms to conclude that all damage was caused by water (supposedly not covered) rather than wind (which is indisputably covered). The e-mails show that State Farm expected its engineers to conclude that all the damage was caused by water and even sent a “suggested” draft report around to all its engineering firms instructing them on how to write the report in such a way to show that all the damage was caused by water.

It is no wonder all the engineering reports that State Farm has used to deny coverage look exactly the same, and every report I have seen looks exactly like the draft that State Farm instructed Forensic to use. Any report that did not come back looking exactly like the State Farm draft report was bounced. The e-mails also show that State Farm instructed all of its engineering firms to IGNORE eyewitness testimony of wind damage and just conclude that the damage was caused by water: “Don’t believe your lying eyes.

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Attorney Advice – Paying Royalties for Legal Advice?

February 28, 2011

American legal system is based on precedent. Precedent means that which has happened before. Attorneys and judges look to precedent and form decisions based on that.

It simply makes no sense to talk about patenting precedent! Can an attorney hold a patent on a course of action forcing others in the same situation to pay royalties to that attorney if they want to follow the patented course of action. I can understand that a legal maneuver may be very creative and/or novel making the attorney very proud of his or her creativity. A creativity that was paid for by the client who hired them. But to hold a patent on a legal strategy and therefore possibly preventing others to give sound legal advice or properly prosecute or defend a case is simply unacceptable.

And how not being able to give the best advice possible affect attorney’s malpractice insurance?

 Imagine, before sitting down with your client to advise her about her legal options, having to consult the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site to determine whether someone else already owns the patent to the course of action you want to suggest.

If that’s the case, you’ll have to pay the patent holder so your client can take your advice. But the patent holder also might refuse to sell you the license, limiting your client’s legal options. Then what?

Read the article here.

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Website of The Day: A Guide to Fair Settlement

January 21, 2011

This is a useful website where you can have many questions about what and how to approach a settlement process with an insurance company. Interesting information. Over all, the age old saying that information is power cannot be over emphasized when it comes time to have a settlement discussion with your insurance company’s representative.

Injury Settlement Guide

Thousands of people end up with less than they deserve for their injury settlement simply because they don’t know how the system works.If you’ve been the victim of a personal injury or accident, you have the right to receive compensation for your damages. But in seeking compensation, you must be careful to avoid the dangers of the legal game.

By knowing your rights and understanding how the system works, you can be sure to get what you lawfully deserve for your injuries.

_____________________________________

If you or a loved one has been a victim of personal injury in Chicago or the surrounding area, contact or call us at 312-252-5252 for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

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A Useful Site: Support Group for Lawyers With Depression

January 13, 2011

I have heard, I do not know, that trial attorneys are the ones most at risk to fall victim of depression, drug abuse and/or alcoholism. What I do know, is that I have heard of many trial lawyers suffering from this sort of diseases. It appears to be that it is simply a by-product of the type of work we do. This work is highly adversarial, highly contentious, petty and small things can get center-stage and become huge, anxiety about missing deadlines and due dates is ever present, errors that can occur as the result of being human consumes many attorneys into lying awake at night thinking about cases and on and on…

Once I was in the Daley Center, many years ago. I had recently graduated law school and I got onto the elevator going up. There was one other rider with me in the elevator and his body language told me that something was wrong, He was stooped forward, his head down, his clothes looked like he had slept in them… He did not look good. While pressing the button to the floor of his destination, he looked at me with eyes that were about to cry, and told me:”If I knew… I would have never chosen this profession.”

Lawyers With Depression

Steps to wellness: Lawyer launches Web site, support group for lawyers with depression (From The Buffalo Law Journal) “Lukasik has started the Web site www.lawyerswithdepression.com, and he also coordinated a support group for lawyers with depression that met for the first time June 1. Both resources are believed to be the first of their kind in New York state, and perhaps farther afield.”

We need something like this here in Illinois as well.

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