"You're in good hands," says the nurse in the office. "Nothing to worry about," says your internist who clears you for surgery. "It's a routine procedure," says the doctor who is going to operate on you. "Why then is my husband paralyzed after this surgery?" asks a frantic wife to the surgeon. The answers don't really matter since all you care about is getting your husband better to walk out of the hospital again. He went in relatively healthy, and now he's in a wheelchair and can't walk, most likely for the rest of his life! "What happened?" you scream in your head. Feelings of anger, frustration and a lack of communication with the doctors and nursing create a big question about whether your husband received appropriate medical and surgical care. Many doctors, nurses and hospital staff are often afraid to admit their mistakes for fear of being sued. What they don't realize, is that by their refusal to acknowledge their errors, this creates the push to sue, to find out exactly what happened and why. There have been many studies showing that if doctors, nurses and hospital staff spoke openly to patients and their families, many of them would understand and decide not to sue. In fact, many Veterans Administration hospitals have adopted an "I'm Sorry" policy that compels the doctors and nurses to admit when they've made a mistake, take responsibility for their actions, and then focus on ways to improve the injury and get the person healthy again. Not many NY hospitals or medical malpractice insurance companies in New York have adopted this school of thought. That forces a wife and her family to sue, to get answers to pressing questions: Why did my husband become paralyzed when this was a 'simple procedure'? This strong sense of anger and lack of information from the doctors or hospital create a sense of hopelessness, fear and lack of control over your husband's life. That's when you start asking friends and relatives for advice on what to do next. Other than trying to help your husband get better, there's little for you to do. What then can you do? You need to start your search for an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in New York. Only by conducting a thorough investigation and having all of your husband's medical records evaluated by medical experts can you determine what exactly went wrong that caused your husband his terrible injuries. There are many lawyers 'out there' who advertise in all different places...yellow pages, billboards, radio, TV, newspapers, online...how do you know which one is for you? Your friend used a great lawyer for her car accident case, but you don't think he handles malpractice cases. Your neighbor is a real estate lawyer...he's not going to be able to handle this. You'd love to call a Courthouse and ask someone who works there, who they think the best malpractice lawyer is...but how do I find the right person to ask? You could go online to look for a lawyer near you, but how do you distinguish one lawyer's website from another? All of your questions are appropriate and valid. There are so many attorneys, all with different experience and qualifications. That's why you need to look for an attorney that provides you with information about lawyers and lawsuits before you ever pick up the phone and call, and before you ever walk into an attorney's office to talk about your case. When searching for your lawyer, look at their experience, their results, their knowledge of malpractice cases like yours, and what information they offer. Have they written or published anything in their field of law? Have they created instructional videos to help you, the consumer, decide which is the best attorney for your case? Look critically at they information they provide, then make your informed choice.
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer