Medical malpractice is an area of the law that is often misunderstood and shrouded in complexities.
I recently completed a medical malpractice trial involving a 34 year old man who had his gall bladder removed. He and his wife met with the surgeon back in 2009 and they decided to do the operation laparascopically. During the performance of this operation, the surgeon clipped and damaged a bile duct from the liver to the intestines. By doing that, he permanently damaged that duct, causing great harm to the plaintiff.
When a surgeon operates, they have the obligation to know anatomy in the area, the anatomical landmarks and to prevent injury to any other vital structures. The basic tenant of the medical field is to “first do no harm.” Medical “standards of care” require that before a surgeon uses clips, the surgeon must know that he/she is not clipping and damaging a vital structure.
The surgeon caused so much damage to the bile duct that the plaintiff had to undergo four more open major surgeries, one to remove the clip, another to relieve an obstruction, a third to repair the huge hernia that resulted and the forth to deal with damage done by scare tissue. In between the various surgeries, he also had to undergo other procedures to try to keep the duct open. A complete repair was not possible, so this man will have to live with the consequences of this surgery for the rest of his life.
After hearing testimony from two surgeons, and three medical expert witnesses, the plaintiff and his wife, the jury found in the plaintiff’s favor for the total amount of $1.3 million dollars.
While this seems to be a significant amount, by the time expenses, fees and liens are taken care of, the plaintiff is left with a much smaller amount.
And, of course, most people assume that the lawyer gets one third. However, in reality, there is a sliding scale that is applied, and since the case was pursued and tried on contingency with all risk taken by the lawyer, there is no fee unless the case is successful.
Malpractice cases require specialized skills and knowledge. A malpractice attorney must understand human physiology, medical terms and the medical profession. So, taking a medical malpractice case to a general liability lawyer is not the best way to go.Usually, the general practice lawyer refers such cases to medical malpractice specialists.
This is where I come in. I have specialized in medical malpractice for more than 28 years. I understand the medical jargon, I know the medical profession and I can usually determine from an initial consultation if, in fact, the person speaking with me has a case.
As I do not charge for an initial consultation, I encourage anyone who thinks they may be a victim of medical malpractice to simply pick up the phone and make an appointment to talk with me. I can then share my knowledge, evaluate the case and determine the best course of action.
Editor’s note: Jeffrey Strauss, Esq. is an advertiser in The Alternative Press of South Plainfield (TAPinto South Plainfield).