There is one reason why you don't see medical malpractice trial lawyers on TV or TV news shows talking about their recent settlements.
- It's not that they don't want to publicize their great settlement.
- It's not that the client doesn't want to publicize what was done wrong to them.
- It's not that the client wants to keep their injuries under wraps.
- It's something much more dangerous and powerful.
You see, when an insurance company agrees to settle a medical malpractice case in New York, in almost every single instance they will demand that the attorney who represents the injured victim, known as the plaintiff's attorney, as well as the injured victim, agree to keep the settlement details under wraps.
A better way to say this is that they require that the attorney and the injured victim agree to a gag order that prohibits and prevents the attorney and the client from publicly discussing the case.
If either one of them violates that specific restriction there is a real possibility that the defense attorney and the insurance company can go into court seeking sanctions as well as monetary fines. There is also the possibility that the insurance company can bring a lawsuit against the plaintiff's attorney and/or injured victim claiming that they have violated and breached their agreement not to publicly disclose details of the case and the settlement.
That would explain why you don't see any New York attorneys who represent injured victims of medical malpractice cases publicizing settlements for their clients.
On the other hand, if the case went all the way to trial and a verdict was reached in favor of an injured victim, then the attorney can and often will publicize that verdict.
When searching for an attorney and looking at their prior successes, you will notice in some cases they will list a particular success but cannot name the people who were involved in the case and cannot divulge specific details that might identify either the doctors or the hospital that was involved.
Even if you were to talk to the attorney by phone or in person, he would be unable to discuss with you the details of the case except to indicate generally what the case is about and the fact that they were successful in obtaining money to compensate their injured client.
There are two specific reasons why the defense and their insurance company go to great lengths to get attorneys and their injured clients to agree to this restriction.
- They don't want more people to publicly know what actually occurred and the fact that they paid money to settle a claim.
- Once the public recognizes that a settlement was made for a particular type of injury, the attorneys who represent injured victims now believe that the settlement sets the bar by which other cases are now to be judged. That means that if another attorney comes to the insurance company seeking to settle a case similar or identical to the one they just settled, the amount that was settled for will now be the starting point at which they would be expected to pay.
A sharp and savvy plaintiffs attorney would then make the argument that his client's injuries are much more significant and severe than the injured victim in the original case where they paid "X" dollars. He would then try and justify why the insurance company should now be required to pay "X" plus "Y" dollars.