Celebrating Over 50 Years of Service
In order to sue for medical malpractice, a person first has to prove that their treating physician or medical provider did something negligent during their care. While many people think this is clear, it is important to understand that only another physician who specializes in the same area of medicine can answer this question. In other words, in order to prove that your physician was negligent, you need another doctor to explain what he/she did wrong and what they should have done. In the legal world, medical negligence is defined as treatment which “departs from the standard of care”; and only another physician/nurse/medical provider who practices the type of treatment at issue can say whether your physician departed from the standard of care.
One of the most misunderstood concepts about medical malpractice is that a bad result by itself is not enough to support liability for malpractice. Just because a person experiences adverse effects during treatment or even dies during surgery does not necessarily mean that the medical providers were negligent. There are bad outcomes to medical treatment and often times that has nothing to do with the standard of care provided. Accordingly, a malpractice suit can only be brought if another physician believes that the treating provider did something negligent. Indeed, in New Jersey, a person bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit has to obtain within months of starting a lawsuit an Affidavit from a qualified medical provider stating that the accused medical provider departed from the standard of care.
Similarly, a medical malpractice lawsuit can only be brought if the victim can prove that the medical provider’s negligence (or departure from the standard of care) caused some injury or condition which more likely than not would not have occurred but for that negligence. This is often an area where potential malpractice claims fail because, fortunately in this day and age, the negligence of doctors is very often picked up in time to avoid permanent consequences. Often a second surgery is conducted to repair a problem caused during the first negligently surgery. Similarly, a delay in diagnosis can be harmless so long as the condition does not progress. Ironically, in such instances, attorneys who handle medical malpractice lawsuits are often left telling someone who has received negligent medical care that there is no potential for a recovery. I say ironically because there is a true catch-22 to walking into my office (or any good personal injury or malpractice attorney’s office) – if I sign you up because you have a good case, you are probably left with permanent physical disabilities, whereas the folks I have to turn away are usually relatively healthy despite whatever happened to them.
The catch-22 phenomenon is most common among potential medical malpractice clients for one reason – these claims are particularly expensive in terms of the need for experts which cost money and the fact that they are more likely than your average falldown or car accident case to require a jury trial. With regard to a expert costs, physicians are not inclined to get involved in medical malpractice lawsuits and therefore to the extent that attorneys like myself can convince them to do so, they require substantial financial compensation. It is not unusual for an expert physician to request a $5,000 retainer upfront and then charge $600-$700 per hour of their time. Moreover, multiple medical experts are usually needed in malpractice cases because of their varying specialties these days; in other words, the doctor who can testify that your treating surgeon was negligent is often not able to say that had the surgery gone right, you would not have the disabilities that resulted from the negligent surgery and/or the consequences of those disabilities. Once we are done with a medical malpractice claim, it is not unusual to have two or three medical experts retained and be spending anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 dollars just to get to trial.
Then there is the issue of settlement in a medical malpractice claim. In most personal injury cases, the insurance company ultimately decides when to settle with minimum input from the person or entity that was negligent and is being sued. Insurance companies make this decision based on business logic and cost/benefit considerations and often times will settle a personal injury case early on to avoid litigation costs. In medical malpractice cases, however; doctors often have the right to prevent their insurance companies from settling. This means that a doctor who takes personal offense to a malpractice claim may force a trial out of emotion or pride under circumstances in which settlement would be the reasonable course of action. While an experienced attorney should be prepared for trial in every case, going to court is much more likely when the claim is for malpractice and preparation is that much more important. Moreover, the person considering a malpractice lawsuit should anticipate that the case will be a long one likely requiring several years and likely a jury trial before coming to a conclusion.
In sum, although a medical malpractice case, when broken down fully, is essentially just another personal injury cases, there are more complicated medical issues and costs associated with proving those issues which makes these cases unique and challenging for many personal injury lawyers. For that reason, many such lawyers do not handle medical malpractice claims; my firm and I, however, have specialized in the area for over twenty years and, as a result, we have been able to achieve very good results for unfortunate victims of medical negligence including often individuals referred from other attorneys. As indicated above, a malpractice lawsuit is usually a long, difficult, and expensive journey; so if you have any questions regarding whether you can sue your doctor, be sure to contact me or any other attorney who handles a lot of malpractice claims.
Request A Free Consultation
I retained attorney Steve Loewenthal to handle my personal injury case. Prior to our consultation, I was nervous and still unsure about what to do. Steve explained the law, my options, and addressed all my questions or concerns about going forward. He’s an extremely knowledgeable attorney who acts in a professional, respectful, and kind demeanor. He is direct and honest, does not make any ridiculous promises, or show any sign of unethical behavior. Before the depositions, he explained the process, took the time to calm my concerns/fears, but most importantly, instructed me to tell the truth. I am aware of some of the negative stereotypes assumed about personal injury attorneys; however, Steve exhibits NONE of these negative qualities.
If you are a sports fan, you will love his office! His has an amazing assistant who was also very helpful! I did not call often but when I did, she knew who I was and exchanged pleasantries. With integrity and expertise, Steve succeeded in effectively handling my case. I do not share my experiences often; but in this case, Steve Loewenthal definitely earned my trust, respect, and my recommendation!
Mr. Loewenthal represented me in a civil case. From the initial consultation to the settlement, Steve provided the most professional, knowledgeable and considerate level of service. Steve kept me informed every step of the way and took his time to explain each new development in the case.
Steve’s experience gave me confidence from the outset the case would be handled with expertise. He was able to coordinate between all parties involved and his negotiating skills resulted in a most favorable outcome. His staff was a pleasure to deal with and were very accommodating. Steve and his office went above and beyond and he comes with my highest recommendation. Thank You, Steve, for everything you did in handling my case.
Mr. Loewenthal took my automobile personal injury case after 2 other law firms turned me down because of car insurance reasons that couldn’t get me a settlement. In NJ, you only have 2 years after your date of accident to pursue personal injury damage. I went to Mr. Loewenthal with my case close to 3 months before the 2 year deadline to sue. He walked me through everything that was going to happen, assured me that we have a case and worked hard on my case and met the deadline to sue. When Mr. Loewenthal called me withe settlement number, I almost fell off of my chair. He got me way more than I thought was possible, for I thought I was getting nothing because of the other lawyers turning my case down. Needless to say, Mr. Loewenthal is a “Jackpot!” lawyer and I recommend him 101% to anyone who wants a real lawyer.
Steven John Loewenthal, I appreciated your expertise, integrity and thoroughness. I was referred to Mr Stevens L. after suffering an Injury during a car accident, my sincere Thanks to you for your excellent legal Representation, Mr Stevens is very knowledgeable proactive and accessible at every step. i do definitely recommended Mr Loewenthal working any kind of Personal Injury cases.
He’s a great listener and very thoroughly lawyer! Always email back right away! Highly recommend him!!!!