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Joplin Personal Injury Law Blog

One important reason to work with an experienced med mal attorney: gathering evidence

Last time, we began speaking about the potential importance increased documentation of medical care and surgical procedures could play in reducing the incidence of medical malpractice in the United States. As we noted, the suggestion that health care providers routinely tape surgeries and other procedures has certainly been met with some resistance, understandably so.

For one thing, routine video documentation of health care delivery could potentially provide a significant avenue for holding physicians accountable for failing to meet standards of care in the delivery of health care services. In any medical malpractice case, one of the potential challenges is gaining access to information that can be used to prove a physician’s liability.

Proposals for increased documentation of medical care scare health care providers, institutions

In the legal world, a great deal of importance is placed upon documentation, and for good reason. Documentation is an important way to ensure accountability and liability for those who fail to do their duty under the law. The question raised in a recent Washington Post article is: could better documentation help reduce medical errors in the United States? And, if so, how should documentation be improved?

These are important questions, especially given the fact that roughly 400,000 people die every year in the United States because of preventable medical error. In many cases, family members of victims of medical error are left without recourse because they have no way to prove that the health care providers involved in their loved one’s case were negligent. More and more people, recognizing this situation, are calling for hospitals to routinely make video and audio recordings of medical and surgical procedures. 

Tracy Morgan crash raises issue of seat belt use in personal injury cases, P.3

In our last post, we continued our discussion about the potential impact of failure to wear a seat belt in personal injury litigation. The discussion was prompted by a recent government report highlighting the fact that Tracy Morgan and other passengers involved in New Jersey accident last year were not wearing safety belts at the time of the crash.

As we’ve noted, failure to wear a seat belt cannot be used as evidence of contributory negligence, but it can be admitted for demonstrating failure to mitigate damages. If it is determined that the plaintiff did fail to mitigate damages, his or her recovery may not be reduced by more than one percent of the damages awarded after figuring in any reductions due to comparative negligence. 

Tracy Morgan crash raises issue of seat belt use in personal injury cases, P.2

In our last couple posts, we’ve been speaking about the Tracy Morgan truck accident and how failure to wear a seat belt may or may not affect a crash victim’s recovery in personal injury litigation. As we’ve noted, Missouri law does not allow courts to admit evidence of failure to wear a seat belt for purposes of demonstrating comparative negligence, but it does allow such evidence for the mitigation of damages.

Mitigation of damages refers to a plaintiff’s obligation to minimize the effects of an accident. In Missouri, courts may only admit evidence of failure to wear a seat belt for mitigation if it can be shown that that not wearing a seatbelt contributed to his or her injuries.

Tracy Morgan crash raises issue of seat belt use in personal injury cases

In out last post, we began speaking about the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board regarding a crash in which actor-comedian Tracy Morgan was involved last summer in New Jersey. As we noted, one of the findings was that the truck driver who caused the accident was definitely fatigued, as initial reports pointed out.

Another interesting point made in the findings is that most of the passengers, who were struck in the accident, including Tracy Morgan, were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident, despite the fact that New Jersey law required them to do so.  Based on that finding, the board urged the National Limousine Association to recommend that limo drivers advise all their passengers about the importance of wearing safety belts. 

NTSB reports findings on Tracy Morgan crash

Missouri readers may remember that actor-comedian Tracy Morgan was in the news quite a bit last year after a serious highway accident in New Jersey. Initial reports of the accident indicated that the truck driver who was involved in the accident had been severely fatigued at the time of the crash, and that this was likely a factor.

Last month, after months of investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board officially announced that driver fatigue did have a big part to play in the accident, even though the trucker was technically in compliance with federal hours of service regulations. As readers may know, hours of service rules put limitations on the amount of time truckers can spend each day and week behind the wheel. 

Is medical malpractice litigation a viable option for me? P.3

We’ve been speaking in our last couple posts on the issue of when medical malpractice may or may not be a viable option when a patient is harmed by a doctor in the course of treatment. As we’ve noted, there are a variety of factors that go into determining whether medical malpractice litigation is a wise course of action. We’ve also spoken a bit about some of the factors relating to limitations in the amount of damages a patient can reasonably expect to receive in pursuing litigation.

Another important consideration, of course, is the actual merits of the case. The ability to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that a physician failed to abide by an accepted standard of care when dealing with the patient is not always easy. In many cases, standards of care are not clear and are the subject of contention among experts.

Is medical malpractice litigation a viable option for me? P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about some of the factors that play into medical malpractice litigation, particularly when such litigation may or may not be a viable option for an injured patient. As we noted, the viability of a medical malpractice case really depends on specific factors, such as the extent and seriousness of the injuries and the patient’s loss of earnings.

Along with these factors, any limitations on the patient’s ability to win damages must be considered. Here, we are talking primarily about damages caps. Some of our readers may know that Governor Nixon signed a bill into law earlier this year which caps certain damages in medical malpractice cases. 

Could cameras in the OR make surgery safer?

Many people in Missouri have heard stories of surgeries gone wrong. From objects being left inside patients to operations on the wrong body part, these surgical errors make it hard not to feel a little nervous about the thought of undergoing an operation.

Those who feel concerned about the possibility of surgical errors may be interested to hear about a new idea being proposed by a lawmaker in Wisconsin. Her idea is to have surgeries recorded -- or at least to allow patients to decide if they want their surgery recorded.

Is medical malpractice litigation a viable option for me? P.1

When a patient is injured by a negligent physician, the costs can be significant, not only in terms of health, but also in terms of money. Naturally, patients should expect that the medical provider will take responsibility for the mistake and assist the patient when negligence occurs. The unfortunate reality is that this doesn’t always happen, and medical malpractice litigation is sometimes necessary.

Pursuing medical malpractice litigation is not always an automatic decision, and it is important for those seeking relief from a negligent physician to have their case evaluated by an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action in their case. Whether or not litigation is a viable option depends on various factors. One of them is the type and extent of the injuries caused by the negligence. Obviously, more serious injuries are going to require more corrective medical care, which costs more money.