You Want to Know if You Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Matter Here in New York.
Here's 4 Questions an Experienced Trial Attorney Will Ask You When You Call His Office.
When did this happen?
Where did this happen?
What injury did you suffer because of the wrongdoing?
Has any doctor confirmed your belief that something was done wrong?
Just the answers to those four questions.
Now, let me tell you why I need the answers to just those four questions.
WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
The first thing I need to do is determine whether your matter is timely.
If your matter is not timely, there's nothing I can do to help you.
Legally, we need to evaluate the statute of limitations.
Every type of civil lawsuit in New York has a time limit within which you have the file a case.
The time limits are different in every case.
The time limits differ between whether you are an adult or a child.
The time limits differ between lawsuits against a private hospital or a municipal hospital.
The time limits are different for a state hospital or even a VA hospital.
The time limits are different for injuries to a baby at the time of birth.
By asking you when this matter happened, I can immediately get a sense of whether or not your matter may be timely.
Let's talk for a moment about how much time you typically have the bring a lawsuit against a private doctor or private hospital, as an adult.
As of today, July 17, 2016, an adult has only 2 1/2 years from the date of any wrongdoing within which to bring a lawsuit against a private doctor or a private hospital. You should know, that you cannot, under any circumstance, rely on this information to guide you about whether your matter is timely.
It's because the time limits do occasionally change.
You might be reading this article a week later, a month later, a year later or even 10 years later. The time limits may have changed multiple times since I wrote this article.
That's why the only real way to know whether or not your matter is timely is to pick up the phone and call.
If you matter is timely, then I will ask you the next important question...
WHERE DID THIS HAPPEN?
Since I only handle cases in New York, if this matter happened in another state, there is no way I could help you solve your legal problem.
Having said that, I know many excellent attorneys in other states that I might be able to refer you to.
If your matter did happen in New York, I will then ask you where in New York it occurred?
Did it happen in the greater New York metropolitan area?
Did happen upstate?
Did it happen in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Nassau County or Suffolk County?
I also do not handle any cases upstate.
I do however know excellent attorneys who handle cases in upstate New York.
These first two questions and answers will help me immediately determine if I can ask you the next two questions.
If your medical malpractice matter happened in another state, I cannot give you any legal advice.
I'm only licensed to practice law in New York, and do not know what the law is in other states as it applies to malpractice.
I get many callers who call from out of state who want to know whether or not they have a valid case. They tell me they have watched many of my videos, read many of my articles and now would like help answering your legal questions.
Although flattering, since I'm only licensed to practice in New York, I cannot give any legal advice about events that occurred in other states.
If your matter happened in the greater New York metropolitan area and your matter is timely, I will then ask you the next important question...
WHAT INJURY DID YOU SUFFER?
At this point, I have not asked you to tell me how the injury occurred.
I have not asked you for any facts yet.
I do not need any information yet.
I'll tell you why in a moment.
I need to get a sense of how badly injured you were first.
Are you disabled?
Are you unable to do certain activities?
What physical problems do you have today that you did not have before this improper medical care?
You will find that most really good medical malpractice attorneys will not take cases that have minimal injury.
It becomes financially impossible to take on those cases even though they may have merit.
That's why you will find that the best trial lawyers will only take cases with very significant injury and disability.
If your injuries are minimal, I will tell you that I cannot help you and that you must speak to another attorney immediately to get another opinion.
If you have significant injury as a result of a doctor's carelessness, that will bring me to the next question I need to ask you.
HAS ANY DOCTOR CONFIRMED YOUR BELIEF THAT SOMETHING WAS DONE WRONG?
This question only requires a yes or no answer.
If the answer is yes, I will then ask you what the doctor said specifically about what was done wrong.
If the answer is no, that's okay.
Here's why I need to ask you these four questions when you call to determine whether you have a valid medical malpractice case.
In order to show that you have a valid case, I need to be able to show that you are more likely right than wrong that what you are claiming is true.
I need to be able to show liability, causation and damages.
Let me break that down and explain.
I need to show that a doctor or hospital staff was careless.
We look to see whether a doctor or hospital staff violated the basic standards of medical care.
The only way to show that is with a medical expert who has reviewed all of your records and confirms that there was wrongdoing.
Then, if our board certified expert confirms that your doctor was careless, we need to evaluate whether that carelessness was a cause of your injury.
Legally, this is known as causation or proximate cause.
There must be a link between the wrongdoing and your injury.
If there is no connecting link between your doctor's carelessness and your injury, then we will be unable to proceed forward with a case.
To recap, we must show through our medical expert that you are more likely right than wrong that a doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.
We must show that you are more likely right than wrong that the medical carelessness was a cause of your injury.
It does not need to be the cause of your injury but merely a cause.
Once our medical expert has determined that your doctor was careless and that carelessness was a cause of your injury, we must then look to see whether your injury was significant or permanent.
If all three elements are present, then and only then we permitted to go forward and bring a lawsuit on your behalf.
Since there is no possible way to determine from an initial phone call whether or not all three of those elements are present, the purpose of your initial phone call to the office is merely a brief screening call.
It allows me the opportunity to initially and quickly determine whether you may have a valid case.
There are some callers who get very offended when I do not encourage them to tell me all that happened.
They get offended when they cannot talk to me for an hour straight telling me every little detail that occured to them.
They get upset when they learn that I do not need all the details leading up to their phone call to me.
As politely as I can, I thank them for calling but tell them that this is just a brief screening call to give me an idea about whether they may have a case.
If I determine that you may have a case, then one of two options will occur...
Either I will invite you to come into the office to have a lengthy discussion with me or I might send you to another law firm whom I think would be a better fit to handle your matter.
If you now go into an attorney's office to discuss your medical malpractice case at length, how long will it take to let you know if you do have a valid case?
That's a great question.
It could take a few weeks.
It could take months.
The primary reason is that we must get all of your medical records.
That can take a very long time.
Especially in a wrongful death case, if there is no legal representative of the estate, then we must go through the process of getting one of your family members named as the person who is legally entitled to obtain those records.
Initially, we need to do a thorough investigation to determine whether you have a valid claim.
That means that we must meet with you and obtain all the facts that you and your family members have.
Then we must meticulously obtain all the necessary medical records to confirm whether you have a valid case.
In my office, as the medical records come in, I personally review every single medical and hospital record in order to truly understand what happened.
Only after all your medical records are obtained can I send it out for medical expert review.
In many cases we must obtain multiple experts to evaluate your case.
In New York, we are required to have a medical expert review all of your records in order to confirm that (1) there was wrongdoing, (2) the wrongdoing caused injury and (3) that the injury is significant or permanent. Only after receiving confirmation by a medical expert are we permitted to proceed forward with a valid lawsuit.
A detailed, complete and thorough investigation can take many months before coming to a conclusion and giving you an answer.
That is why the sooner you look into evaluating your matter, the sooner you will have an answer.
Importantly, you must always keep in mind the time limit within which you have to bring a lawsuit for the injuries you are claiming.
You might think that by going to an attorney who begins to investigate your case, you don't need not worry about the time limit in which you have to start a lawsuit.
This is incorrect.
If the medical wrongdoing happened in a municipal hospital in NY, such as Jacobi hospital, Elmhurst hospital, Queens General hospital, Kings County hospital, Harlem hospital, Bellevue hospital and others, you have a very limited time within which to file a claim against those hospitals operated by Health & Hospitals Corporation.
If those papers are not timely filed, you may lose your ability to ever file a lawsuit seeking money compensation for your injuries.
To learn who pays for your medical expert when evaluating a medical malpractice case here in New York, I invite you to watch the quick video below...