Episode 2 – Medical Malpractice Cases
Episode 2: Today, Evansville personal injury attorney Todd Barsumian discusses the complexities of handling medical malpractice cases. These cases require extensive litigation experience, the ability to effectively question medical experts and the ability to understand medical procedures and standards of care. They are some of the most challenging cases any attorney will encounter.
Many times, clients initially are simply looking for answers. The surgical outcome may have been unexpected. Maybe something the doctor explained didn’t seem right. At other times, there may have been obvious mistakes, which may constitute medical negligence on behalf of the physician or other healthcare provider.
Medical Review Panel Process
Todd is licensed in both Indiana and Kentucky. There are substantial differences in the law between these two states. Unlike Kentucky, Indiana law requires medical malpractice cases to go before a medical review panel. This panel is usually made up of 3 physicians with experience in the specific type of medicine and/or medical procedure. This is handled through the Indiana Department of Insurance.
The medical review panel process isn’t a trial. At this stage, information and supporting material is submitted to the panel. Sometimes, limited testimony will be involved. The panel will review the material in an effort to determine if they see a breach of the standard of care AND that the breach directly contributed to the injury to or death of the patient.
The process can take upwards of two years to complete. This is one of the challenges involved in the decision to take a case to trial. Part of the time is based on the efforts required to gather and thoroughly review all of the medical records. Some of these records can be hundreds or thousands of pages. It’s a very comprehensive process, especially because the plaintiff’s attorney will need to be able to prove the current situation wasn’t due to a pre-existing or unrelated situation.
Under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, it’s possible for the defense to claim the patient-victim bears some responsibility for the outcome. This is commonly referred to as contributory negligence. This can happen if the patient failed to fully disclose a full medical history, issues or conditions to the treating physician.
If the Panel Decides Against Your Case
There are still limitations and guidelines involved. A statute of limitation is a specific period of time in which you have to file a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is going to be filed, it must happen within this window of time. If the suit is not filed in time, the victim is barred from pursuing the case.
Ultimately, if the panel decides you don’t have a case, the attorney can still pursue the lawsuit, but it will be more difficult. The members of the panel can often be called to testify as to why they decided the way they did (either for or against).
Was It Malpractice?
Medicine is not a perfect science. There are many variables and bad outcomes can still occur. This does not mean the physician or healthcare provider actually violated the established standard of care. Many of these adverse outcomes are noted in the informed consent forms the patient fills out in the hospital. However, these forms don’t relieve the physician from adhering to the standard of care. At times, the standard of care is open to interpretation and physicians can disagree. This is why the Medical Review Panel offers an opinion and lawsuits are ultimately pursued.
Assuming there was a breach of the standard of care, your attorney still needs to prove the defendant was the one responsible for the breach AND that the breach caused the negative outcome. The question of “causation” is vital to a medical malpractice case. Not every medical error is a factor in the injury to or death of the patient. This is a significant complexity in litigating medical negligence cases.
Why Do Attorneys Use Medical Experts?
Attorneys who take on medical malpractice cases usually need to rely on medical experts to support the case. In testifying as medical experts, or reviewing medical records before the case gets filed or goes to trial, experts provide qualified opinions regarding the presence of negligence.
If the case actually goes to trial, the jury will usually strongly consider the testimony of a physician expert, and in most cases expert testimony is required.
Signs I May Need to Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Todd Barsumian is a skilled trial attorney. Medical malpractice cases are complicated. They require a commitment to the client and the financial ability to properly prepare and litigate the case.
These are some of the common signs you or a loved one may be a victim of medical malpractice:
· Has the doctor or staff suddenly become less open to your questions?
· Is your healthcare provider reluctant to discuss the outcome of your procedure?
· Does the explanation you receive simply not make sense?
· Did your loved one unexpectedly pass away during the medical or surgical procedure?
If you’ve experienced any the above, you may want to contact Barsumian Armiger to get a second opinion. This time, it’ll be a legal one.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire Barsumian Armiger?
Barsumian Armiger offers free consultations and works on a contingency-fee basis, which means there are no attorney’s fees or expenses unless there’s a recovery in a case. There are no upfront costs. The firm advances case expenses and charges a percentage of the recovery. The firm only gets paid an attorney’s fee and only gets reimbursed its expenses if at the conclusion of a case the client obtains a recovery. However, if there is no recovery, clients will not owe any attorney’s fees or expenses.
Barsumian Armiger has offices in Newburgh, Evansville, and Fishers, Indiana. Todd Barsumian represents clients in both Indiana and Kentucky. Jonathan Armiger represents clients throughout Indiana.
Want More Information?
You can visit www.BarsumianLaw.com or call the attorneys of Barsumian Armiger to see if they can help you or your family. Principal office located at 5455 Old Indiana 261, Newburgh, IN 47630. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. Services may be performed by another attorney in the firm. This podcast is for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to establish standards of legal practice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship with the listener. This is an advertisement (i.e. marketing material). If you were injured in Indiana or Kentucky, you can contact the firm at (844) 268-7775.