Although they are very hard cases, we have had tremendous success over the last 17 years with Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits. To win these cases you must show that the doctor was negligent. As it costs a ton of money to pursue these cases (on average it’s around $100,000.00 to go to trial in expenses) you also need big damages to make it worth pursuing.
A caller to my office thought she had a great case. She went through a surgery where her bladder was cut. When she woke and found out what happened the doctor apologized profusely to her and said that it was his fault.
So in her mind this was a slam dunk and I get why she feels that way. The doctor said he screwed up so he’s in the wrong, correct? Unfortunately this is wrong for two reasons.
First, even if a doctor says sorry, if the error is considered an acceptable risk of a surgery then it’s not negligence. In this case, when you have a hysterectomy, it’s a risk that the doctor could nick your bladder. If that happens and it’s caught in a timely manner it’s not negligence in most cases.
Second, as part of their risk management practices, insurance companies have been advising doctors to apologize to patients who get injured under their care. It’s a strategy done to prevent you from looking for a lawyer. Essentially insurance companies want you to feel that the doctor is a good person who just made a mistake and not sue them as a result even if they hurt you really badly. So if push came to shove and this went to trial, a doctor could simply say that they only apologized because the insurance company recommended it.
Does this sound fishy? Welcome to the world of dealing with insurance companies. They’ll do whatever they can not to compensate you with money you are entitled to.
None of this is to say that a doctor apologizing is a bad thing. I’ve actually seen doctors admit they messed up and encourage their patients to get a lawyer. But in general, while the apology can be helpful, it doesn’t guarantee anything.
Bottom line is that if a doctor apologizes you should write down what they said to you and definitely call an attorney right away, but it’s not a slam dunk win. It’s just a potential piece of the puzzle.
If you’d like to speak to a lawyer for free about a potential malpractice lawsuit, call us any time at (800) 517-1614.