1. You like your doctor
So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing. Most of us like our doctors. There is more. That’s why we trust them & keep going back to them for treatment. But should the fact that you like your doctor stop you from seeking compensation when he or she committed wrongdoing that caused you physical & emotional injury?
The law in New York permits anyone who has been injured by another to bring a lawsuit for compensation. This law originated from common law & goes back hundreds of years. In fact in some religions there is evidence that this type of law goes back thousands of years. It makes good common sense. If another person causes you harm, you are entitled to obtain money to pay for your medical expenses, your lost earnings, your future lost earnings, the damage to your property, & of course, compensation for the pain & suffering you endured.
So, should the fact that you like your doctor stop you from bringing a lawsuit? It might make you feel uncomfortable, but I guarantee that when you start to think about your disabling injuries & how your doctor caused them, the anger & hostility you feel will usually outweigh your fondness for your doctor.
2. What good will the money do for you?
This is a common rhetorical question that defense attorneys often ask plaintiff’s lawyers. “The money will not bring your loved one back,” “The money will not make you whole again,” “The money you are asking for is not going to change anything…”
However, money is the only thing that our justice system allows us to recover when an injured victim sues their wrongdoer. While those comments above may all be true, we are prohibited from taking justice into our own hands. There is more. Therefore, what else can we obtain for the injured victim? Money is the only thing that allows us to pay the medical bills that were generated as a result of the wrongdoing. Money is going to make the victim more financially secure. Money will help the injured victim with ongoing medical care & rehabilitation. The injured victim will not actually be a burden on a City or governmental handout. Money will help his children go straight to school or camp. Money may help with modifications needed in his home- such as a wheelchair ramp or modified kitchen appliances.
Money can never make us whole, or replace the agony & suffering that was caused by a doctor or a hospital. But the money is supposed to make those wrongdoers think twice or two times about doing that same action again, & hopefully stop the next person from being a malpractice victim.
3. Your doctor’s reputation will be tarnished
Contrary to popular opinion, (or at least from the doctor’s insurance company) this is not an accurate statement. Most people living in a civilized society recognize the right to sue. The fact that a doctor has been or is sued is not that significant. If you ask a doctor if they have been sued, they will often be quick to explain how the case had no merit. Importantly, the physician will still continue to practice medicine & there will usually be no disciplinary action taken as a result of a civil medical malpractice lawsuit. The belief that a doctor’s reputation will suffer a blemish if sued, is simply not correct.
4. Your doctor will be banished from his community
Once again, this statement is not true. The doctor will continue to practice medicine (even if they lose the malpractice suit against them, & are required to pay the injured victim money). The doctor will not lose their license, & in all probability, the award will not actually be reported in the local papers, & most of his patients will not even know of the lawsuit or the award.
5. Your doctor will shut his medical practice
No he won’t. He might be outraged that he has to defend a lawsuit & take time away from his practice for a few days, but there is no reason for him to shut his medical practice.
In very extreme cases where the physician is a threat to the health & well-being of his patients, the New York State Department of Health can & will shut down the doctor’s practice & revoke his license to practice.
But, in the majority of cases, this does not happen, & the doctor continues on with his practice & his life.
6. Your doctor may lose his license
Not true. A civil lawsuit in New York has no effect on whether a doctor does or does not lose his license to practice medicine. In order for a New York doctor to lose his license, the New York State Department of Health investigates a complaint of wrongdoing. After extensive investigation & after a hearing where the physician gets to explain what happened & why, the Department of Health reaches their own conclusions about whether treatment was rendered in accordance with good medical care or whether there were deficiencies.
The options to punish or cure the deficiencies are many, & only as the most extreme- & last resort option would the Health Department revoke a physician’s license. But simply by bringing a lawsuit against a physician for monetary compensation does not affect his license to practice medicine.
7. Your doctor may alter your records
Believe it or not, this has been known to occur in rare instances. Right. When it does, the attorney representing you may be easily able to prove itâ€¦ If your lawyer is able to prove that your doctor altered your records, the doctor could suffer significant penalties & could lose his license to practice medicine. The fact that he may or may not alter your records should not stop you from investigating and/or pursuing an action on your behalf. There are usually other ways to determine what treatment was rendered, & often such action by a doctor can help your case by showing the extent to which the doctor attempted to cover up the wrongdoing.
8. Your doctor may apologize & tell you it was all a mistake
There are recent medical & insurance studies that have confirmed that when doctors & hospital staff are straightforward & honest about what happened, patients & their families tend to understand that ‘not virtually everyone is perfect’. In actual fact, some hospitals encourage the doctors to fess-up & tell the patients they screwed up, & apologize, & arrange to have the hospital immediately reconcile financially with the patient & his family. The studies indicate this works.
Does that mean that you should not sue because the doctor apologized? Not necessarily. An apology may not solve your problems. You need to decide whether such an apology is sufficient. Most people will tell you it is not.
9. Your friends & family may think you are a gold-digger
If you live your life concerned about what your friends & family think, then maybe you should not sue-under any circumstance. Your friends have not experienced what you have gone through. Nor do they live with the constant pain & disability that you have. They may not truly understand what you will live with for the rest of your life.
Some folks simply do not want their friends & family to know they are involved in a lawsuit. The reasons are endless. “I do not want anyone knowing my business.” “I do not want my neighbors knowing how much of an award I received.” “I do not want my family members asking me for money- this is for my future- I can not work anymore, & I can not afford to give it away.” “I do not want my relatives to argue with me about why I sued my doctor.”
You must decide for yourself whether these concerns outweigh your legal right to bring suit & recover money for your injuries.
10. Your injuries are not that disabling
There are cases where the injuries are significant, but have cleared up after many months or years. There is more. The fact that you may no longer be permanently disabled is a factor to determine how much your case is worth. If you are no longer disabled- we congratulate you & your success in overcoming your injuries. If you can do those activities that you used to do, we are very pleased with your recovery. You should know however, that such success means that the value of your case may be limited to the time you were injured & disabled. Most people would agree with this result. You only can receive compensation for the time you were injured & disabled.
Many injured folks may make a recovery, but still be unable to do all of those daily life activities they used to do. Where there is an ongoing problem or disability, the value of your case is generally greater than where you have totally healed.
Attorney Oginski has been in practice for 18 years as a trial lawyer practicing exclusively in the State of New York. Having his own law firm, he is able to provide the utmost in personalized, individualized attention to each & every client. In our office, a client is not a file number. Clients are always treated with the respect they deserve & expect from a professional. Mr. Oginski is always aware of every aspect of a client’s case from start to finish.
Gerry represents injured people in injury cases & medical malpractice matters in Brooklyn, Queens, New York City, the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau & Suffolk Counties. You can reach him at www.oginski-law.com, or 516-487-8207. All inquiries are free & totally confidential.