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Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Unlike other personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, Massachusetts medical malpractice claims must be reviewed by a special tribunal before they may proceed in a regular courtroom. If the tribunal does not believe the claim has merit, the plaintiff has the option of filing a bond and continuing with his or her case. A recent appellate court decision dealt with this procedure, answering the question of whether the bond has to be in cash or whether a surety bond will suffice.doctor

Facts of the Case

In the recently reviewed appellate case, the plaintiff was a man who sought to recover compensation for an alleged act of medical negligence by the defendant health care provider. He commenced his action pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws chapter 231, § 60B, and a medical malpractice tribunal was convened to review the evidence against the defendant. After consideration, the tribunal concluded that the plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry, as required under Massachusetts law.

Modern medicine is a complicated endeavor in which an individual may see several different medical providers for various conditions. Unless these providers are able to communicate effectively with one another for the patient’s benefit, tragedy can result.hospital

A recent Massachusetts medical malpractice case arose from just such a situation. In the case, a former teacher and marathon runner incurred permanent injuries that will require around-the-clock care for the rest of her life – all because a doctor failed to note an MRI report properly on her medical chart.

Facts of the Case

doctor
There are many procedural hoops that must be jumped through in order for a person injured by an act of medical negligence to be successful in a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit. While potential pitfalls are common in the area of negligence law, this is particularly so in claims against doctors, hospitals, nurses, and so on. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that an otherwise valid (and potentially very valuable) claim falls through the cracks due to a technicality.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) Massachusetts Appeals Court case, the plaintiff was a woman who sought compensation for the alleged medical malpractice of several defendants related to complications from gallbladder removal surgery she underwent in 2013. In an earlier case, the plaintiff (on her own behalf and on the behalf of her two minor children) asserted claims against a hospital, a surgeon, and two “John Doe” (unknown) defendants, claiming that she had suffered a bile duct injury during her surgery that required her to undergo several other (otherwise unnecessary) medical procedures later. That case was dismissed by the medical malpractice tribunal on the ground that the plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question of liability, and the plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice.

medical coatsFiling a claim for medical negligence in Cape Cod or elsewhere in Massachusetts can be a complicated endeavor. It pays to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after suspecting that you or someone close to you has been hurt by an act of medical malpractice.

It takes a considerable amount of time to properly investigate and substantiate a medical malpractice claim. If the appropriate paperwork is not completed in a timely fashion – or if the offer of proof submitted to the medical malpractice tribunal does not meet the requirements of Massachusetts medical malpractice law – the case is subject to dismissal, even if the plaintiff was severely injured or even passed away because of a medical provider’s mistake.

Facts of the Case

stethoscopeUnlike car accident or slip and fall cases, Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuits require that the plaintiff make an offer of proof before a special tribunal. If the tribunal does not find that the plaintiff’s offer is adequate, the plaintiff may post a bond within a certain time period, or he or she may appeal the case to the appellate court for a review of the tribunal’s finding.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent (unreported) appellate case was the personal representative of the estate of a man who died after suffering a full cardiac arrest in 2012. The man, who was 46 years old at the time of his death, had been under the care of the defendant physician (a primary care physician). The plaintiff’s complaint sounded in medical negligence, including allegations that the defendant’s failure to “appreciate and address” the decedent’s heart disease violated the applicable standard of care and caused his premature death.

courtroom
When a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit goes to trial, there are usually multiple witnesses who testify in front of the jury. This includes not only the parties to the case but also the expert witnesses who are retained by each side to render an opinion as to the applicable standard of care, whether the defendant violated that standard, and the injuries suffered by the victim if so.

Sometimes, a particular witness cannot be present at trial, so his or her testimony is secured outside the courtroom, in advance, via a deposition. However, there are limitations on when a deposition may be used in lieu of live testimony.

Facts of the Case

handshake agreement
In most Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuits, the defendant health care provider has a policy of professional negligence liability coverage in place to protect his or her personal assets in the event of a judgment against him or her. Typically, the medical professional is only personally liable to the extent that a judgment is awarded by a jury in excess of the policy limits.

A recent case raised the issue of whether a medical malpractice insurance company must obtain permission from its insured before settling a claim within the policy limits.

Facts of the Case

expert reportMedical malpractice lawsuits are expensive and procedurally difficult. This is not to say that a plaintiff cannot be successful in an attempt to hold a negligent doctor liable in a particular case, but only that doing so can be much more difficult than, for example, holding a negligent driver liable in a motor vehicle accident case.

One of the main reasons for the difficulty in pursuing a medical malpractice case is the requirement for expert proof as to the medial professional’s deviation from the standard of care.  Just as medical care itself is costly, so, too, is hiring a medical expert to testify as to a mistake made in the plaintiff’s treatment.

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pregnant woman

Under Massachusetts medical malpractice law, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant health care provider violated the applicable standard of care.

First, however, the plaintiff must find an expert witness who is willing to testify in court as to what the standard of care required – and how the defendant’s actions or inaction violated this standard.

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X ray

Purportedly to combat the growing problem of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law (codified at Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, § 60B) several years ago, requiring the plaintiff in a medical negligence case to submit an “offer of proof” to a three-member reviewing tribunal after filing a formal lawsuit against a doctor or another medical professional. The tribunal consists of a judge, a physician (or another health care provider), and an attorney.

If the tribunal determines that the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to raise a “legitimate question of liability,” the matter proceeds toward trial. If not, the plaintiff has the option of posting a filing bond of $6,000 (in most cases, although that amount can vary) or having his or her case dismissed.

If the case is dismissed, the plaintiff may appeal that decision to a higher court for review.

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