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The Challenge of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical malpractice claims are difficult to successfully litigate. In many situations, there is clear malpractice and clear damages, but that does not mean that a claim will ultimately be successful. The plaintiff is going to have to prove that according to medical standards, there was a deviation in the standard of care by the defendant doctor. Even when malpractice seems obvious, the plaintiff and the medical malpractice lawyer will need to hire an expert to testify that malpractice has occurred.

Why Your Personal Injury Attorney Will Need to Hire an Expert

This expert must be able to convince the jury that the doctor was negligent.  The main challenge is to make sure that the jury understands the medical issues. Medical diagnosis and procedures are often pretty complicated, and if the jury does not understand the issues, it may not recognize malpractice. When jury members are in doubt, they will often return a verdict in favor of the doctor. This is why it is crucial for the plaintiff and the malpractice attorney to hire an expert who can clearly explain why the doctor or hospital was negligent.

Let me give you give you an example. There was a matter where an infant in New Orleans, Louisiana suffered a horrible injury. It appeared to be clear that the treating physician committed malpractice, but the medical issues were very specific and complicated. At trial, jury members heard conflicting testimony from medical experts on both the plaintiff and defendant’s sides and ultimately were unsure which way to go. Although negligence seemed clear, the plaintiff’s medical expert was not able to clearly explain the infant’s injury and why the doctor was negligent, so the jury sided with the doctor.

Some Medical Issues Are Easier for a Jury to Understand

On the other hand, there are medical malpractice cases that are much easier to litigate. I handled a medical negligence suit in Lafayette Parish about 10 years ago where the surgeon failed to remove one of the surgical sponges after an operation, causing my client to collapse from a stomach infection. This case was more straightforward since it is common protocol for the doctor and nurses to monitor the number of sponges going in and coming out. Failure to do so is obvious malpractice. It was easy for the jury to understand that leaving a foreign object in a patient after surgery is negligent.

The defendants in medical negligence lawsuits will usually fight a claim to the bitter end.  You can be sure that the doctor or hospital will hire the best possible experts for their defense, so you need to make sure your medical malpractice attorney knows what type of experts can best help your claim. Because medical malpractice is so difficult to prove, it is vital to hire a lawyer who has tried medical malpractice cases before.

Thomas Alonzo

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