Roadblocks to a Successful Medical Malpractice Case

Roadblocks to a Successfu…

Medical malpractice cases are some of the most difficult cases for a plaintiff to win. They are vigorously contested, emotionally charged, and the stakes are high 

But because victims of medical negligence often suffer catastrophic, life-changing injuries, they are some of the most gratifying and important cases a personal injury lawyer can handle. 

Medical errors are one of the top 5 leading causes of death in the United States today, yet victims of medical negligence face barriers to getting the justice and compensation that they and their families need and deserve. 

Numerous factors make medical malpractices so difficult to win, including Ohio’s Affidavit of Merit requirement, the short statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases in Ohio, juror bias in favor of doctors and hospitals, and how complexity favors the defendants.|

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you overcome these obstacles, but time is of the essence. If you or someone you love was injured or killed as a result of a doctor’s error, act quickly and seek legal advice as soon as possible. 

Ohio’s Affidavit of Merit Requirement

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, doctors and their insurance companies were concerned that high medical malpractice verdicts, which led to high medical malpractice insurance premiums, were causing doctors were leaving the state. They also complained that doctors were being forced to practice ‘defensive medicine’ to protect themselves from ‘lawsuit abuse,’ and that these unnecessary tests were driving up the cost of healthcare.  

In response, politicians enacted various ‘tort reform’ measures that were intended to reduce so-called lawsuit abuse. These ‘reforms’ included caps on damages and a requirement that a plaintiff include an “Affidavit of Merit” with any medical malpractice case. The laws were intended to make it more difficult for victims of medical negligence to obtain compensation for their injuries. 

The Affidavit of Merit requirement means that in order to file a case alleging medical negligence, the plaintiff must have the case reviewed by a physician who is familiar with the applicable standard of care who must supply a written statement, made under oath, that the doctor has reviewed all available information and believes that the defendant breached the standard of care and caused injury to the plaintiff.  

Unfortunately, the requirement of an Affidavit of Merit effectively closes the courthouse doors for many victims of medical malpractice who were wrongly injured, or who might need to use the court system to find answer to why a procedure did not have the expected outcome. Barring injured people from filing medical malpractice lawsuits also eliminates the deterrent effect of the medical liability system which holds doctors and hospitals accountable when they make mistakes that injure or kill their patients. 

Short Statute of Limitations

Medical malpractice cases are subject to the shortest statute of limitations in Ohio - 1 year. This means that a person who was injured due to a doctor’s negligence has 1 year from the date of injury in which to file a lawsuit against the negligent doctor(s) or hospital(s). If the victim does not file the lawsuit or extend the statute of limitations by providing notice to the potential defendants, the injured person cannot pursue their claim and is denied justice. 

There are some exceptions to this requirement. For example, if the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the injury, the time limit does not begin to run until the victim turns 18. Likewise, the statute of limitations does not begin until the injured victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury. 

The application of these exceptions to a particular case is complicated, however. If you believe you or someone you love was the victim of medical malpractice, it is best to consult with an experienced medical malpractice as soon as possible 

Bias in Favor of Doctors and Hospitals

Many jurors are biased against doctors and hospitals. We hold these professionals in such high esteem that jurors have a hard time believing that they could have made a mistake or did something wrong, and are unwilling to hold them accountable. 

Most jurors tend to favor the defendant doctor or hospital and only hold the defendants accountable for obvious mistakes, such as leaving surgical tools inside a patient. 

This bias makes it more difficult to win over jurors, even when the burden of proof on the plaintiff is the comparatively low preponderance of the evidence (i.e. more reasonable than not) standard.  

Complexity Favors the Defense

Medical malpractice cases are notoriously complex. Not only are jurors asked to apply legal standards they may not completely understand, they are also being asked to evaluate whether complex medical procedures were performed properly. 

Unfortunately, when people do not completely understand something, they react by doing nothing. In the context of a medical malpractice case means that they find in favor of the defendant doctor or hospital. 

At trial, attorneys discuss the medical evidence and bring in experts in an effort to explain complex medical terminology and concepts. But too often the jurors, most of whom did not attend law school or medical school and are in a very foreign environment, do not fully understand the evidence presented or its significance and side with the defendants. Likewise, if jurors find the presentation of evidence boring, they tune out and miss critical information that could be necessary to help them reach a fair decision.   

Robenalt Law - Standing Up for Victims of Medical Malpractice

If you or someone you care about was injured due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital, don’t delay - contact an experienced Ohio medical malpractice attorney as quickly as possible. You and your family might be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the injuries. 

The medical malpractice lawyers at Robenalt Law have the experience, resources, and expertise to successfully handle even the most complex medical malpractice cases. 

Contact Robenalt Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to review your case. Call us at 216-233-7573, email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com, or complete our online form. 

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing doctors and hospitals at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.

Categories: Medical Malpractice

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