Patients injured by the Medical Malpractice of physicians and hospitals are finding it more and more difficult to find a medical malpractice attorney willing to handle their case. Veteran plaintiffs’ attorneys are leaving the field or dramatically limiting the cases they take, in the wake of tort reform and dwindling jury awards.
For years the insurance industry has driven up the litigation costs in medical negligence cases by defending cases with scorched earth tactics, refusing to timely turn over records, defending on frivolous defenses, and failing to undertake good faith settlement discussions until standing on the courthouse steps. In turn, lawyers handling these claims, even on what appears to be clearly meritorious cases, have always been forced to evaluate the economic viability of a medical malpractice claim before accepting the case.
The ultimate question in our office is “Can we put our client in a better position by taking on the client’s case?” and “Will the return on the time, effort and expense, in view of the risk, warrant the investment both for my client, and our office. If we can answer yes to both of these questions we can then consider the case.
Unfortunately, the recent deformation of tort law has further restricted the ability of good medical malpractice attorneys from taking on cases. Caps on recovery for injured victims of malpractice mean that while the costs of litigation continue to rise, the recovery is limited inhibiting what the client will ultimately receive in pocket for compensation after expenses and fees are taken from the recovery.
It strikes me as unconscionable that in many states including Ohio, a person can be fired based on age discrimination and recover millions, but a person who loses both legs as a result of medical malpractice can be limited to a $500,000 recovery. Unfortunately, this is the status of the law which our legislatures have enacted and our courts have enforced at the beckon request of the insurance industry and medical lobby. The insurance industry has largely found a way to close the courthouse doors on those that are entitled to justice and there is no immediate relief in sight. The sum and substance is that the burden of medical malpractice has now been shifted from the responsible party to the injured victim and that is a cost which we all will have to endure.