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If my doctor has been sued, and I bring a lawsuit against him now, can I use his prior cases against him at trial to show how bad he really is?


A: The quick answer is no, you can't. Remember, just because someone has brought a lawsuit in the past, doesn't necessarily establish that he/she is responsible for the patient's injuries. The facts of each case are very important. The previous case may have nothing to do with the type of claim you intend on bringing. Even if the cases were somewhat similar, New York law does not allow us to use the prior case to establish that this particular doctor was responsible for your injuries in your case. In some limited instances, we might be able to prove habit or a pattern of behavior. For the most part, we cannot use it. For example, if you get a ticket for running a red light and the following week get pulled over for driving over the speed limit- the fact that you had a prior ticket for running a red light has nothing to do with whether you were speeding one week later. Does that mean it has no value? Absolutely not. When we investigate a case, we look to see if the doctor has been sued before, who was sued with him, who the attorneys were, and what the outcome of the case was. In some cases, we contact the attorneys who represented the patient to inquire about the facts of their case, to see if there are any similarities with your case. If we know that a doctor has a history of being sued, we use it to negotiate a better settlement for you, as the doctor's insurance company will surely have information about the doctor's lawsuit history.