Malpractice Suits Denied For Lack of Damages, Not Merit

Infections, additional surgeries, a long recovery or preventable death are what make up a number of potential malpractice suits. But what if, after years of suffering because of a doctor’s mistakes, you were told your case isn’t worth the time?

A recent article by ProPublica, part of an on-going investigation of health care safety, highlights the growing struggle to find a lawyer to take on malpractice suits, even though with so-called “merit.”

Hundreds of thousands of people suffer some type of preventable injury or die while undergoing medical care, ProPublica reports. Yet, those patients and families hoping to recover losses with a lawsuit are turning up empty-handed.

That’s because more and more lawyers are turning down malpractice suits.

The publication cites a 2013 Emory University School of Law study that found 95% of patients who seek an attorney for harm suffered during a medical treatment will be shut out, mostly for economic reasons. The same study found that nearly half the 450 attorneys surveyed refused any case if damages were less than $250,000.

The damages of a lawsuit are generally determined by lost earnings, medical bills and future costs caused by the injury.

Many patients and families shared their stories of failed attempts to bring about lawsuits with the publication.

One woman talks in detail about the botched cancer surgery she underwent, leaving her unable to continue working as a registered nurse and on disability.

Other readers told of how they were unable to recover losses after elderly parent died from what they believe was negligence by doctors and hospitals.

Ten Patient Stories: When Attorneys Refused My Medical Malpractice Case [ProPublica]