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Doctor argues he has good character...Can he use that in his defense in a medical malpractice case in NY?

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You bring a lawsuit against a doctor here in NY for injuries he caused.

You claim he violated the basic standards of medical care. As a result of those departures from good medical care, you claim you suffered signficant injury.

The doctor wants to show, at trial, that he's a good guy. He wants to show that he's a boy scout and a benevolent fellow. He wants to show how he volunteers at his local soup kitchen and that he helps homeless people. In other words, he wants to show the jury that he has a great character.

By implication, the defense will argue that since he's such a 'good guy' there's no way he could have harmed you.

Here's the problem with that defense...

It's a compelling argument. It's one that most defense attorneys and doctors who are sued would love to use.

Their argument is 'hey, he's a really good guy...don't hold him responsible for a little mistake that he never intended to happen'.

But, since you, the injured victim are not claiming the doctor's a 'bad guy' and that's why he caused you harm, why should the doctor be permitted to introduce evidence of his good character? It would be different if we were saying he's a dirtbag and he's a liar and a thief. Then we're impugning his character. Then the defense might have a leg to stand on to bring out good character evidence.

However, in most medical malpractice cases, we are claiming that at a particular time, on a particular day, the doctor was careless.

We claim that the doctor violated the basic standards of medical care. That was careless. Legally, we say that the doctor was negligent and committed medical negligence.

That has nothing to do with his character. In fact, in many cases where the doctor has a great reputation, we may discuss the fact that he is well respected in the community. We may bring out that we're not claiming he's not a good person. Instead, we will focus the jury's attention on the doctor's lack of medical care that caused harm.

Where we don't go after the doctor's character and reputation during the litigation and at trial, it's highly unlikely that the defense will be able to successfully mount a defense about his 'good character'.

To learn about my best cross-examination of an expert witness, I invite you to watch the video below...


Category: Medical Malpractice

Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

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