Common Law Myths: Medical Malpractice Lawsuits are All Frivolous

Nov 19, 2014

Many assume that every medical malpractice suit brought in America is a frivolous claim that shouldn’t be allowed in our courts. The key to understanding the need for claims stems from the understanding that medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other healthcare provider causes injury to a patient through a negligent action or failure to take a medically appropriate action.  When you understand the reasoning behind medical malpractice lawsuits, you understand the true frivolity is the myths surrounding medical malpractice.

Myth 1: Too many lawsuits are driving up the cost of insurance for doctors, which mean I have to pay more for health care.

This myth is perpetuated by the fact that doctors, like lawyers and contractors, obtain insurance to protect against any professional claims of malpractice.  In many cases the insurance costs that doctors must pay to maintain their malpractice insurance is a drop in the bucket when compared to the costs of health care on the whole.  Medical malpractice suits are not frivolous, as the overwhelming majority of the claims brought before the court have merit.  This means that there is evidence that the medical professional acted negligently, or failed to act when medically necessary.  Simple examples of medical malpractice claims would be misdiagnosis, medication errors, and anesthesia errors during surgery.  Each error can cause pain and suffering in addition to extended time in a medical care facility.  Rather than blame litigation and assume such lawsuits are frivolous, look to the extra costs incurred by these patients for mistakes that could have been easily prevented by following the requisite standard of care.

When you meet with an attorney to discuss your claim, the attorney will review your case and evaluate the merit of your claims before proceeding to litigation.  This is why hiring a medical malpractice attorney in Columbus, Ohio will help as you will receive legal advice about the merit of your claim.  Attorneys are here to advocate for the rights of those harmed while being cared for by medical professionals.

Myth 2: Anyone can file a suit for any reason.

Claims for minor grievances that do not hold merit generally do not come before a judge.  The cases that judges hear are the cases involving death, dismemberment, or serious injury that would affect the quality of life of the individual or family filing the claim.  These suits are no laughing matter, and many of the claims brought stem from completely preventable medical errors.

Studies conducted in the past decade approximate that 1.5 million people are harmed by medication errors. For example, consider a physician writing a prescription for the wrong medication. Assume this medication interacts with the patient’s current medication and the doctor wrote the prescription with that information readily available.  If the patient ends up in the hospital because of an adverse reaction, one that could have been prevented by the doctor’s review of the patient file, the patient is harmed.  This harm can be backed up economically as the cost of the care necessitated by the medication error, and the time away from work.  Each case will include different facts and circumstances, but the basic claim will be the same, harm was caused that could have been prevented.

Myth 3: Damages awarded are outrageous, and they cause others to file frivolous claims.

The last prevailing myth about medical malpractice lawsuits is thinking damages are too high.  This includes punitive damage awards as well.  Such a notion is false, as most attorneys present to the court documentation showing the general damages and special damages to the victim and his or her family.  General damages are those that compensate the victim for the non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, whereas special damages are those that can be measured by direct economic loss.

Each damage amount is carefully calculated by the attorney to be an accurate reflection of the amount of harm suffered by the victim.  Occasionally, the injury will be so negligent or reckless that the court will grant leave to request punitive damages.  Punitive damages are put in place to punish the bad behavior of the defendant and deter them from repeating such negligent or reckless behavior.  In Ohio, punitive damages are limited to no more than two times the amount of compensatory damages.

The damages awarded to the victims of medical malpractice are not meant to enrich or reward for litigious behavior, rather these damages amounts are meant to make the victims whole.  Medical Malpractice attorneys will tell you that the best outcome to hope for in the case is to receive your damages award, but no amount of money will undo what has happened.  To read more about the types of damages, be sure to read our blog post on the 3 types of damages in personal injury cases.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, you should call the law firm of Agee Clymer Mitchel and Portman.  Our team of attorneys and support staff will work tirelessly to see you get the representation you need for your medical malpractice claim.  Call us today at 800-678-3318 to schedule a consultation at one of our many offices.

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