Transcript: How do you know if you have a medical malpractice case? Medical malpractice cases tend to be the Mount Everest of personal injury litigation, and you need to have two things.
Number one, you need very high damages. My general rule is that you need at least a million dollars in damages for it to be a viable case. Number two, the doctor or the hospital or the nurse have to have done something very clearly, basically, obviously wrong. You know, on one end if they cut off the wrong leg, if they take out the wrong kidney, everybody understands that’s a surgical error, that’s a good medical malpractice case.
What is not a good case is if the doctor, the surgeon, operates on you and, you know, there’s always some inherent risk and you just get a bad outcome, that’s not a valid medical malpractice case. To successfully sue you’ve got to show that the hospital, the doctor or the nurse breached what’s called the standard of care, that they did something that a reasonable doctor in the same situation would not have done, you know, the like training and qualifications.
To sue a doctor, you need to get another doctor who is willing to come to court and testify and explain that this doctor did something that no reasonable doctor would do. And when you think about it like that you realize that’s a very high burden because if ten doctors come in, say, and five of them say well I would have done that and five say I wouldn’t have done that, that’s not a breach of the standard of care. You need a situation where if you ask ten doctors, if nine of them said oh he should never have done that, that breached what a reasonable doctor would do, then you’ve got a medical malpractice action.
The other thing to understand is on medical malpractice cases we are very good at them. I love medical malpractice cases, but they’re very expensive for the lawyer to pursue. We typically get about 40 percent on the contingent fee for those because they’re very risky and expensive. They will not settle, typically, medical malpractice cases will not settle until the case is essentially on the eve of trial.
It’s not like a normal auto case where you can deal with the insurance company and generally settle before you file a lawsuit. Doctor cases are not like that. They will not settle unless it’s, again, they cut off the wrong leg sort of thing. So normally you have to file a lawsuit.
We, as your lawyer, have to invest anywhere from $60,000 to $150,000 out of our own pocket in costs. To get your case ready to go we’ll typically spend anywhere from nine months to 27 months investigating the case, interviewing witnesses, getting experts ready to go, having depositions, and at the end of that process the case may settle. The majority of the time, though, you have to go to trial on the cases.
So they’re great cases, and you will know if you’ve got a claim if certainly another doctor has told you should see a lawyer. That’s a huge red flag. If nursing staff in the hospital are telling you should go speak to somebody, that’s a huge red flag. But if no other medical people have told you anything and you just feel like your mom or your loved one got a bad outcome, odds are it’s probably not a medical malpractice case.
A critical thing clients often will ask me, my loved one has died, what should I do? And unfortunately I often get that call six months after the loved one has died, they want to sue. It’s critical if a loved one has died that you immediately contact a lawyer, contact me if you suspect medical malpractice has taken place.
We will arrange for an autopsy to be performed. If there is no autopsy that is performed and no toxicology samples are preserved, as a practical matter you probably will never be able to sue the doctor who did this to your loved one. So it’s critical. Contact the Law Offices of John Phebus. We are your shield. We will hold the wrongdoers to account.
We represent a broad range of medical malpractice cases. Surgical errors are very common, nursing errors are very common, informed consent errors, so when you meet with a doctor he’s got to tell you before he does surgery, this is what I’m gonna do and these are the risks. If the doctor doesn’t do that properly you’ve got a cause of action for a lack of informed consent.
Hospital errors, administration errors where you’re given the wrong medication as a result of their medication administration system. All of those types of things can lead to medical malpractice actions. Nursing home errors. If your aunt or your grandmother or your parent has been left and developed bed sores, you know, that’s unfortunately a very common tragic thing we see. We can assist with that.
When in doubt, this is what we’re here for. It costs absolutely nothing to give me a call and run the problem by me. And if I can help you, I absolutely will. And if I can’t, I’ll tell you it’s not something I can help with. But it costs you nothing to give me a call.
Normally I want your medical bills to be paid by your healthcare provider. We may need to reimburse them later, but we’ll deal with that. Now, if you have no healthcare coverage and you do not qualify for Arizona’s Medicaid program, AHCCCS, we do have doctors who will work on a lien basis. We also have resources with litigation funding companies who will advance the costs of your medical care. So we have a broad range of options to ensure that you’re getting the proper treatment at every step of the way. That’s never a problem.
How much is a medical malpractice case worth? It’s extremely difficult to say without having reviewed the medical records and knowing what the experts are gonna to testify to. The entire value of a medical malpractice case is gonna be determined by what did you suffer, what are your ongoing medical expenses. Say a doctor screwed up, a neurosurgeon screwed up, and you’re now paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of your life, your damages are in the millions. Millions.
You know, on the other hand if you had cosmetic surgery and maybe you’ve got a dimple on your abdomen, well, you know, those damages are gonna be significantly lower. You still may have a case, but they’re not of the same sort of caliber.
As a practical matter, because of the costs and risks of medical malpractice actions we will not sign up a case unless we think we can recover for you at least a million dollars. So most lawyers who do medical malpractice, myself included, will tell you that for every hundred calls that we receive, you know, 90 of those calls we don’t even meet with folks because there’s just not a viable claim.
Of those ten cases that are left, I’ll typically meet with two to three of them and sign up one to two. So about 98 percent of the time in a medical malpractice case a good lawyer is not gonna be able to sign it up. Don’t take it personally. It’s just, you know, juries protect doctors, they’re very difficult cases to win, and so all of us have to be very selective.
But what I can promise you is that when I take your case I will pursue it relentlessly, tirelessly, endlessly, until we have held them to account. I do not take cases without merit, and once the case is taken battle will be joined.