Medical Malpractice Cases: Can They Ever Be Reopened?
It’s nice to believe in second chances and surely everyone deserves one, but when it comes to your medical malpractice case, you only get one shot. If your doctor, surgeon or other medical professional harmed you or a family member, it’s critical that you have the best representation possible to get your case right the first time because there’s no going back.
Here are some important questions to ask about your medical malpractice case that you must know before it’s too late:
Do I Need an Attorney If My Doctor Is Cooperating?
If your doctor is cooperating and being friendly about your potential medical malpractice case, that’s a bad sign. No physician wants to be sued and if they’re willing to write you a check, that means they know they messed up. Don’t let your feelings get in the way and don’t let the friendly demeanor of the doctor or their insurance company fool you. They’ve got an attorney (likely a whole team of them) and you deserve one too.
What If I Already Have a Settlement Offer From My Doctor?
Again, this may seem like a good sign. Your doctor’s insurance company has made you what seems like a reasonable settlement offer. They may even tell you it’s a great deal because by settling right away you can save on attorney fees and get back to your life. It seems like a win-win, but it’s only a win for them. Anytime an insurance company has their checkbook out, it means they’re afraid. This is exactly why you need legal representation – whatever they’re offering you is the tip of the iceberg.
Do I Need an Attorney If I’m Ready to Accept a Settlement?
Before you consider accepting a settlement for your medical malpractice case, you should speak to an experienced malpractice attorney – and not one working for the other side. Once you accept a settlement your case is done for good. You can never go back no matter how unfair that settlement turns out to be! Part of a settlement is signing a release saying you understand the case is done for good and that you can never reopen the case.
Insurance companies that represent doctors know every trick in the book to avoid paying out properly on a medical malpractice case. You may be told that your case is insignificant but they’re willing to pay you a small settlement as a good faith gesture. There’s nothing good about an offer like this. No matter how they explain it to you, if an insurance company is willing to give you money, it’s only to keep you from getting an attorney and getting a lot more money.
Do I Need an Attorney If My Medical Malpractice Injury Isn’t That Bad?
Whatever your doctor did to you – or failed to do – may not seem so bad at the moment. But medical problems get worse, not better, over time and there’s really no telling what long term effects medical malpractice will have on your health and your life. You have to think how the injury will impact the rest of your life. Will you need ongoing medical treatment? Will it limit your work options? Will it shorten your life span? How will it affect your quality of life? These are important considerations that you must address now before you accept a settlement and your case is closed for good.
What Can I Do to Know I’m Protected?
The best way to proceed is to hire a reputable, experienced medical malpractice attorney to take on your case from the start. This is the last thing your doctor or his insurance company wants you to do. They may even caution you to accept a settlement rather than “lose out” by paying an attorney. This is the worst advice. A good medical malpractice attorney will get you far more than whatever settlement the insurer is offering you. A great medical malpractice attorney will get you all that you deserve.
Do I Need An Attorney If I Already Accepted a Settlement Offer?
If you accepted a settlement offer already, there’s a good chance it’s not too late as long as you have not signed any documents. The Court’s can go either way to enforce or not to enforce an oral agreement, especially if you did not have representation at the time of the agreement. If they committed fraud or extreme bad faith in dealing with you, you may be able to nullify the settlement and reopen the case, but this is a slim hope. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, whether it was a botched surgery, childbirth complications, failure to diagnose or treat a serious illness or any other failing by your physician, you need a capable attorney representing you.
The physician’s oath beings “First, do no harm.” But if your doctor or other medical professional has violated this tenet, you also can’t trust them to treat you fairly when it comes to compensating you for their mistake. Instead, the moment you know (or suspect) that you or a family member was the victim of medical malpractice, contact a reputable attorney to have your case evaluated. They will know what you can likely expect as an outcome of your case and will fight to get you the maximum redress you deserve. Medical malpractice is an injury that lasts and your settlement should reflect this!
Rob Kornfeld is an experienced attorney practicing medical malpractice law. You can speak to Rob about your medical malpractice case by calling (425) 657-5255. Your consultation is free and the advice can be life changing. V