For a physician, learning that you are the subject of a medical malpractice claim can be devastating. When accused of medical negligence, it’s normal to feel singled out. However, according to the American Medical Association, “more than 42 percent of physicians have been sued.” Lawsuits are particularly common among certain practices including obstetricians and gynecologists with roughly one out of every two doctors reporting being sued at least once before turning age 40.
While claims of medical wrongdoing are common, they are still serious and can negatively impact a doctor’s reputation, mental health and ability to practice. When faced with a medical malpractice lawsuit, doctors would be wise to ensure they are honest and prepared should a case go to trial.
The vast majority of medical malpractice cases are either dismissed or settled. In cases where a case goes to trial, doctors “prevail in 80-90 percent of cases.” While these statistics heavily favor medical professionals, every case and situation is unique and, when possible, a plaintiff’s attorney is likely to favor going to trial over settling.
As a case proceeds, crucial facts and evidence are gathered and revealed during the discovery phase of the legal process. Once a plaintiff’s attorney has collected evidence and gained a more comprehensive picture of what transpired, depositions will commence. For anyone, being deposed can be a nerve wracking experience. For a doctor whose professional skills, reputation and integrity are on the line; being questioned by a plaintiff’s attorney can be an especially harrowing and frustrating experience.
When answering questions, it’s important to stay calm and collected and to answer all questions truthfully. It’s also important to ask for clarification when necessary and to keep all answers brief and to the point.
Medical malpractice cases are highly complex and subject to numerous rules, regulations and requirements. An attorney who has successfully defended against malpractice claims can assist in helping obtain a dismissal or other favorable legal outcome.
Source: Medscape.com, “Guide to Winning Your Malpractice Lawsuit,” May 7, 2015