This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


No matter how good your case is, no matter how excellent an attorney you are, you can really only give an educated guess about how a jury is going to decide. Voir dire is a way to sort through the jurors, get a feel for them, possibly reveal some prejudices and biases, but you can't ever know for sure what goes on in an individual juror's head, nor how putting that specific group of people together will affect the outcome.

I've seen cases go to trial that were just hands-down absolutely solid cases fail miserably before a jury. And I've seen cases that sucked, presented by lawyers that suck, hit the jackpot. I like to think that it's more than just a crap shoot, that my preparedness, my litigation skills, and the strength of my case will persuade a jury. But I guess you just really never know.

Anyway, everyone is pretty floored by a multi-million dollar verdict in that failure to diagnose case. Not to mention, the majority of the fault went to the doctor that probably wasn't at fault, rather than the one who probably was at fault. (There was good evidence that a medication prescribed by the second doctor could have caused the cardiac event that killed the decedent.) Those kinds of verdicts just do not happen from a jury here. I'd be interested to find out what convinced the jurors of the defendants' fault. Was it the plaintiff's attorney's Perry Mason antics? Was it the "risk factor" chart that started with the most damning factor of being "MALE"? I tend to think it was the testimony that the doctor did not follow up with the patient after the initial appointment. A couple of the jurors looked outraged that the doctor would not make sure that the patient actually made a follow-up appointment, and came to that appointment. I dunno. All I know is that I want to convince a jury to award all of my clients millions in damages, so I can retire by age 35.

Oh well. Gives the crazies something to rant about in their arguments for MED MAL TORT REFORM BECAUSE OH MY GOD IT'S ALL THE LAWYERS' FAULT THAT HEALTH CARE COSTS SO MUCH AND NO OTHER REASONS!!!! Even though malpractice claims amount to less than 3% of the overall health care costs, and that's even including the claims that such crippling fear of being sued makes doctors order a ton of unnecessary tests.

It's important to note that even though Doctor Mousy got a million dollar verdict against her, and had to be subjected to a full day in court with Perry Mason screaming at her and her reputation has taken a hit with the whole town knowing she got her ass handed to her in court, she won't pay that money out of pocket, and her premiums are paid by the hospital she works for, and she won't lose her job or her license. Does it suck for her? Yes. But I can't say I feel too sorry for her. She didn't order any diagnostic testing for a fat 50 year old dude complaining of numbness and tingling in his left arm. I dunno, I would think as a doctor that the inconvenience and embarrassment of getting sued is not nearly as bad as living with the knowledge that if you had done something differently, something that is the standard of practice, your patient might still be alive. That's one of the reasons I couldn't be a doctor, I'd constantly second-guess myself and feel guilty for every bad result.

At least in law, it's (mostly) just money if we screw up. I'm concerned with getting sued too, I don't want to commit malpractice and be known as a screw-up in the legal community. But I'm much more concerned with screwing up someone's case, especially when it involves something more than money, like someone's safety, someone's freedom, and particularly involving matters of child custody. That's what motivates me to give due diligence, not covering my own butt so my malpractice premiums don't increase. If I ever do commit malpractice, and cause a client harm, I'll self-report, because that's what we're supposed to do. And you can bet that getting sued won't keep me up at night, it'll be the guilt of having screwed up.

1 comment:

Kikay said...

Hi there! You said to leave a message when we send you an email, so here it is ;o)