Let's get this out of the way.
Doctors don't wake up in the morning and say "Who can I harm today?"
They don't get up and say "How can I deviate from the standard of care so my patient suffers lifelong injury?"
It just doesn't happen.
The majority of doctors are great at what they do.
Some are good at what they do.
Some are less than good.
And frankly, some just shouldn't be practicing medicine at all.
This is true for most professionals and service providers.
Likewise, no patient who is sick goes into their doctor's office with the hope or expectation that their doctor will screw up and they'll be able to sue the pants off of him.
Let's face it...
Some patients are grateful.
Some are thankful.
Some are less than thankful.
Some are downright miserable.
Some you just can't please no matter what you do.
That's a fact and applies to the general population of patients who seek out a doctor for their medical care.
Another thing I want to tell you right away...
My dad was a doctor.
His father was a dentist.
My uncle was a doctor.
I have six cousins who are doctors.
Yet I became an attorney to help injured victims who suffered harm as a result of improper medical care.
As a side note, I thought I wanted to be a doctor like my dad. Almost did. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
You trusted your doctor.
You liked your doctor.
You never had a problem with him.
He was kind.
He was compassionate.
He was considerate.
He gave you the time of day and never rushed you.
Yet, after your procedure, you believe he neglected you.
After you're recuperating from your complications, you believe he did wrong by you.
You believe, somehow, that he was careless.
You believe he dropped the ball.
You are angry.
Everyone you tell your story too gets angry.
They get a sense of injustice when they hear what happened to you.
You decide to bring a lawsuit seeking to be compensated for all the harms and losses you suffered because your doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.
You have that right here in New York as long as a qualified medical expert confirms (1) there was wrongdoing, (2) the wrongdoing caused injury and (3) the injury is significant and/or permanent.
On paper, it looks like you have a good valid case.
Since you were his patient, you know what the doctor was like to his patients.
What if he's the same way in front of the jury?
What if he's kind and sweet and likeable?
If that's how he comes across, you've got a big problem.
If the jury likes the doctor, they will not be inclined to find that he violated the standard of medical care.
They will excuse his actions.
They will forgive him for what he did or didn't do.
Because he's nice.
Because he's sweet.
Because he's likeable.
Think about it...
When we go to our doctor, we hope and expect to see those exact qualities.
We want the doctor to reassure us.
To tell us everything will be Ok.
It's so much easier to hate a doctor who is obnoxious.
One who doesn't care.
One who pays short shrift to his patients and staff.
Any juror listening to an obnoxious doctor is able to visualize his personality and behaviour.
If that's what he's like in court, then surely that must be what he's like with his patients.
If the jury does not like the doctor, it's much simpler for them to render a verdict against him.
If the jury hates the doctor, it's much easier for them to disassociate themselves from their own treatment by their own doctor.
If the doctor did something carelessly and apologizes for it, that is likely to have an affect on the jury.
Then again, it depends on when the doctor apologized.
Was it only after a lawsuit was started?
Was it only on the witness stand, three years later, at trial?
Was it moments after it happened while in the hospital?
Was it sincere and genuine?
Defense attorneys in New York who represent doctors and hospitals tend to be smart, savvy and often very experienced trial lawyers.
They will often try and make the doctor warm and fuzzy with the jury.
Many times this strategy works. Sometimes it doesn't.
The jury wants to like the doctor.
The jury doesn't want to believe that a physician could have done something to cause one of their patients harm.
If the doctor is nasty, it becomes so much easier to convince the jury that the patient is deserving of a verdict in her favor.
On the other hand, if the jury falls in love with the doctor, then it will be very difficult and challenging to convince them that he departed from good medical care and those actions or inactions caused or contributed to the patient's injuries.