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Articles Posted in Verdicts and Settlements

Medical malpractice refers to all cases where there are claims of professional negligence caused by doctors, nurses, and other care providers. Sometimes these are traditional negligence claims filed by the patient themselves when they are injured as a result of medical errors. At other times, when the patient dies as a result of the mistake, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed. In each case medical malpractice is the heart of the matter, but some of the procedural steps are different depending on who is actually bringing the lawsuit–the patient or a family members following a death.

Wrongful Death Suit after Surgery Delay recently reported on a jury verdict in one of those wrongful death cases following medical malpractice. It is an example of the serious consequences of delayed treatment–in this case a failure to order emergency surgery in time. According to the story, the original case was filed by a widow after her 56-year old husband died on Christmas Day in 2008.

We often point out how securing a successful verdict is sometimes only part of the legal battle. That is because securing a judgement which shows that you are owed money is only the first step in actually receiving that recovery. In some cases, the process is relatively straightforward, and insurance companies or other parties ensure their obligations are handled. At other times, more extensive efforts much be undertaken to force those responsible to pay what is owed.

Another complexity involves using those funds–either a settlement or verdict–to repay third parties who also have a stake in the matter. Most notably, this usually includes government sources which provided support following the harm, usually in the form of medical care. Reimbursing Medicaid, for example, can often result in delay and headaches for those merely wanting to end the matter and get on with their lives. Fortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recently supported plans to change procedures in such a way that will hopefully eliminate delay in making reimbursement claims.

In addition, some state Medicaid programs often try to demand excessive reimbursements, adding even more controversy and delaying a final resolution even longer. For example, North Carolina came under significant scrutiny recently as a result of state laws which found an irrebuttable statutory presumption that Medicaid was entitled to one-third of any tort recovery for which funds were provided. Essentially, this means that the state could demand significant portions of any recovery for a plaintiff without clear explanation for why the state needed to be reimbursed that much. Because the presumption was irrebuttable, there was nothing that plaintiffs in the state could do to show how the one-third taking was excessive in their case.

A well-known doctor who has worked with many professional athletes, sports teams, and national events has come under fire for allegations of severe mistakes which caused harm to those in his care. The Aspen Daily News recently provided background on the story and explained the allegations against the medical professional. The tale is a reminder that all medical settings come with a risk of substandard care–even when the doctor is apparently at the top of his field.

State Investigation

According to the report, the doctor involved is known has been the medical director for ESPN’s X Games nearly since its inception on top of being the head team physician of NFL football’s San Diego Chargers for many years.

Contingency fees are a critical part of the civil justice system, used frequently on many personal injury cases and medical malpractice matters. The basic idea is that it is manifestly unjust for someone injured by the misconduct of another to be prohibited from seeking accountability because of their inability to pay up-front legal costs to bring the case. After all, the very reason that many lawsuits are filed is because of the precarious financial situation some are placed in after an accident. Life savings are often drained to pay for medical and other costs, and the injury often makes work impossible. It makes little sense to allow the wrongdoer to avoid accountability so long as they harm someone of less means.

That is where contingency fees come into play. The basic idea is that attorneys agree to bear the risk of the uncertain legal outcome and take a share of the award (settlement or verdict) only after it is received by the plaintiff. If no damages are received then the plaintiff is no worse off and the lawyer bears the loss of time and expenses paid up to that point. Overall, it is a common sense solution to ensure that everyone has access to justice no matter what their financial situation.

New Illinois Med Mal Contingency Law

Our legal team at Levin & Perconti works with families throughout Illinois who have been harmed by inadequate medical care. Medical malpractice cases are often incredibly heart-wrenching, because they involve community members whose trust is violated by those on whom they thought they could depend.

Whenever a case is filed, one of the first things that happens is both sides begin collecting information about the situation which may be used down the road in court proceedings. This involves interviewing the individuals involved (like the patients and the doctor), collecting relevant documents (medical records), and similar fact-finding matters. The time associated with gathering all of this potential evidence is one reason why some of these cases take many months to sort out.

However, in more cases than not, all of that information gathering does not actually end with a trial and presentation of information to a judge or jury. Instead, after the details are uncovered, both parties in the dispute often reach agreement regarding fair compensation and accountability to resolve the matter. This settlement process is a good thing–it saves time and expense and expedites the judicial process.

Another medical malpractice case went to trial and, according to a report from Seacoast Online, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The suit stemmed from a misdiagnosis that the patient claims was caused by errors made by the plaintiff’s radiologist. As with all misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis cases, the plaintiff’s argument was that if proper standards of care had been followed, then the proper diagnosis would have been reached in a timely manner, preventing harm to the patient.

Radiologist Liable for Failing to Diagnosis

The article summarizing the case explains that the plaintiff went to the hosptial in order to get help for a prolonged and severe headache. In addition to the headache, the woman began showing some neurological problems, indicating some brain issue. Her speech was slurred. In order to get at root of the problem a CT scan was performed. The results of that scan were read by the defendant-radiologist. That is where the problems originated, claim the woman.

Only a minority of medical malpractice cases that are filed go to trial. That is either because the others are dismissed or result in a pre-trial settlment. Matters that go to trial are more costly, because more expensive legal work is required. In most cases, it is preferable for the parties to reach an agreement on an amount of compensation that avoids those expenses and ensures fair redress for the harm caused. However, there are times when those settlements cannot be reached. That usually results from one of two situations. Either the parties are not on the same page when it comes to a specific settlement amount or the defendant refuses to believe that they were actually negligent. Therefore, trials in malpractice cases are most common in situations where the amount of damages is disputed and in cases where the existence of negligence is a close call and could go either way.

In any event, when a case does go to trial, one of the most critical aspects of the resolution stem from evidentiary rules. Clients are often surprised by the complexity of these procedural rules about what can and cannot be said. It is not necessarily as simple as having any piece of information that might be relevant introduced at trial. Just because something is relevant is not the deciding factor–other barriers exist. Arguing over those barriers is often extensive. The evidentiary decisions are made by the judge, not the jury, and therefore may form the basis of an appeal by the party losing a case.

Medical Malpractice Appeal

Even though most civil cases do not make it to trial, an attorney must be prepared to go all the way in every single case from the start. That is because it is impossible to know for sure how the legal process will unfold. A lot depends on the approach taken by the opposing side and the information that becomes available as the case is investigated. Being prepared for everything is essential in solid advocacy, and our team of lawyers at the law firm of Levin & Perconti are proud to take that to heart.

For example, just last week we won two jury verdicts, one of which invovled a case of medical malpractice. Please click here to read more about this important series of wins for our clients.

Verdict for Plaintiff in Chicago Medical Malpractice Case

Over ten years ago a family’s life was forever altered following a birth injury that occurred at the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. Several of our Chicago malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti filed a lawsuit against the negligent medical professional and hospital involved in the error to help vindicate the rights of the injured child and her family. The suit was settled today with the hospital and the physician providing the family with $6.5 million. Two of our attorneys, John Perconti and Patricia Gifford, represented the family in the ordeal.

There were no apparent complications when the victimized mother was brought to the Lutheran General around 3:30 in the morning on September 26, 2000. The mother had not had any complications during the nine month pregnancy-a normal delivery was expected. Yet, problems arose during the pregnancy itself for which the medical team involved failed to account. Specifically, the nursing and delivery doctor failed to notice the fact that the child’s head was too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis-a condition known as cephalic pelvic disproportion.

The problems did not end there.

The Washington Post reported this week on a settlement in a particularly troubling case of medical deceit. The situation involved a relationship that St. Joseph Medical Center had with MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates-a cardiovascular group co-founded by Mark D. Midei. Midei is a cardiologist who has been charged with medical fraud, causing hundreds of patients to undergo unwarranted heart procedures.

St. Joseph hosptial was charged with taking kickbacks from MidAtlantic in exchange for referring patients to MidAtlantic for “lucrative cardiovascular procedures.” The illegal relationship reportedly took place over a ten year stretch from 1996 to 2006. The kickback was disguised as a payment for services but was instead an attempt to hide the illegal referral scheme. Of course, referral payments in this way incentivize costly, dangerous, and unnecessary treatments. That sort of relationship makes money the object of medical care instead of the needs of the patient.

Dr. Midei eventually left his job at MidAtlantic to work full-time for St. Joseph, taking a high profile seven figure salary. The employment lasted until 2009, when accusations about Midei’s falsification of records led the hospital to contact hundreds of its former patients and warn them of the possible error.

The hospital explained that it “reached the agreement without admitting liability in order to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation.”
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