How Hard is it to Sue a Doctor or Hospital?

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Many patients or family members of patients who have been injured by medical malpractice worry about how difficult it will be to sue the doctor or hospital that injured them. In our experience handling medical malpractice lawsuits for decades, we believe this is a justified concern.

Most People Like Doctors

The simple truth is most people in our society hold doctors and hospitals in high regard.  On the other hand, many people question or look down on those who file lawsuits for medical malpractice. While not fair, this is a reality injured patients and medical malpractice lawyers must accept and confront.

Most People Think Malpractice Lawsuits Will Impact Their Medical Care

Additionally, there is a common misconception that medical malpractice lawsuits cause doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums to rise, which in turn leads to doctors leaving or quitting medicine, which many people mistakenly believe results in worse medical care for everyone.  While this is not accurate, it is a powerful personal belief held by many, which causes patients injured by malpractice through no fault of their own to start off at a disadvantage.

While medical malpractice lawsuits are no easy feat for injured patients to undertake, there are certain rules of thumb to keep in mind.

Most People Will Feel Sympathy for the Doctor

For example, it is easier for patients to sue hospitals and medical corporations versus individual doctors and nurses. This is because hospitals are…not people.  They are faceless.  Hospitals do not engender the same sympathy as do doctors and nurses.  Additionally, claims against hospitals and medical corporations typically involve bigger mistakes and system failures like lack of policies and procedures, understaffing, and communication errors.  Moreover, most doctors have a clause in their medical malpractice insurance policy that allows them to refuse to settle even if the insurance company wishes to resolve the claim.  There is not the same “consent to settle” issue when suing a hospital.

When you sue an individual doctor or nurse, there is naturally more sympathy for them because it is an actual person who will be able to explain their intention to help not hurt.  They can talk about their lives, their backgrounds, the reasons they chose to work in the healthcare field.  And in our experience, doctors and nurses are trying to help their patients.  This does not excuse medical negligence that causes catastrophic injury or death, but it is an additional hurdle that medical malpractice victims must overcome.

Personalities and Impressions Matter

Though it is often more difficult to sue an individual doctor or nurse, lawsuits can hinge on the personalities and likeability of the defendant healthcare provider.  If the doctor or nurse at issue does not make a good impression – maybe they are arrogant, maybe they come off as callous, or maybe they just do not seem like a caring person – the jury is less likely to feel sympathy for them and more willing to hold them accountable or punish them for what happened.

The impression you the injured patient make as well as your family and friends, has a great deal to do with your chances of success suing a doctor or hospital. If you, the plaintiff, make a great impression – you are a solid citizen, you have suffered a meaningful injury that greatly interferes with your life, and you have strong support from family and – it will go a long way in helping win your case.

On the other hand, when the injured patient has skeletons in the closet like prior criminal history, pre-existing medical conditions, were noncompliant with medical recommendations, or were partly at fault for their poor outcome it is much more difficult to succeed and win a medical malpractice claim.

Injured Patients Must Overcome a Double Standard

Of course, the stronger your case – an egregious mistake, clear-cut medical causation, catastrophic injuries, or death – the easier it will be to succeed with your medical malpractice lawsuit.   The more questionable or defensible the negligence or causation the harder it becomes to successfully sue the defendant doctor or hospital.

The bottom line is that patients who have been seriously injured due to potentially negligent   medical care must be aware that medical malpractice lawsuits are never easy.  There are no “slam dunks.”

It has been our observation that most people are not particularly fond of medical malpractice but at the same time believe that medical malpractice cases are easy to win. This is simply not the case.

Lupetin & Unatin Make it Easier for You to Win Your Case

The good news is that at Lupetin & Unatin, we methodically investigate and scrutinize every potential case we are asked to consider.  We require the cases we undertake to possess specific winning criteria.  Because of this, we decline most of the cases we are asked to review.  You can be assured that if we agree to handle your medical malpractice lawsuit, we have determined that you have a very good chance of winning.  This makes it easier for you to successfully sue the doctor or hospital that hurt you.

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