A friend of mine recently asked me why medical malpractice cases are so challenging to litigate in North Carolina. My response was that medical malpractice cases are some of my favorite and most rewarding cases to handle because of the close connections I’ve formed with my clients. These clients, through no fault of their own, were all seriously injured because of a preventable medical mishap. Like most relationships forged in trying circumstances, these bonds are meaningful, deep, and permanent.
Medical malpractice cases are difficult for many reasons. Because they require expert witness testimony, they tend to be expensive. It is often necessary to hire a number of medical doctors to review the case and testify, and these doctors typically charge for their time by the hour. These cases are typically defended very aggressively by attorneys hired by medical malpractice insurance companies. Therefore, there are usually many trips required to take and defend numerous depositions, each incurring the costs of travel, lodging, transportation, meals, etc., in addition to the costs of a court reporter and a written transcript. Medical malpractice cases are also much more likely to be tried than ordinary negligence cases. This means that additional costs are incurred to create exhibits, for witness travel and testimony, and for lodging, meals, and other incidental costs. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases also face a number of legislative, procedural, and other rhetorical difficulties, including arbitrary legislative caps on damages, widespread (but unfounded) fears among potential jurors of frivolous lawsuits, and usually a lack of cooperation from subsequent treating physicians.
Because medical malpractice cases are so challenging in our State, it is vital that victims consult with an attorney with substantial experience in this specialized area of the law. When considering counsel, inquire about the percentage of medical malpractice cases handled by the lawyer or firm, question whether and how often the lawyer or firm has tried medical malpractice trials, and ask about the challenges and potential costs of pursuing your case. Finally, but just as importantly, seek an attorney with whom you will likely form a meaningful personal, in addition, to a professional bond.
John Chilson is a partner at Comerford & Britt, LLP, in Winston-Salem where he focuses his practice on catastrophic personal injury and medical malpractice claims. He, and all of the other experienced medical malpractice litigators at Comerford & Britt, LLP, will be glad to answer your questions and identify all available legal options. Please visit www.comerfordbritt.com or call 877-631-8510.