You were hurt.
By your doctor.
He was careless.
He was negligent.
He violated the basic standards of medical care.
Causing you permanent injury.
Causing you physical disability.
Causing you to need corrective surgery.
Causing you to need months of ongoing medical care.
Requiring you to have months of physical therapy.
Limiting your activities.
Limiting your ability to work.
Limiting your ability to help your spouse.
Preventing you from playing with your kids.
Preventing you from enjoying your life's daily activities.
As you spend days, weeks and months trying to recuperate, you are dealing with pain.
Pain that racks your body.
Pain that keeps you up at night.
Pain that is unrelenting.
You suffer through the hot summer months.
You suffer getting into and out of your car.
You suffer walking into your home.
You suffer going up and down your stairs.
You suffer getting dressed in the morning and getting undressed in the evening.
As you sit helpless watching daytime TV, you begin to get resentful.
You resent those people who do not have physical limitations like you do.
You begin to resent people who go about their day without any worries.
You resent people who do not have physical disabilities like you.
You begin to feel as if nobody understands you.
You begin to feel as if you are all alone with your pain and the suffering you are enduring.
You wonder how you got this way.
You wonder how you were so lucky to suffer these horrible injuries.
You begin to get angry.
Angry towards your doctor.
Angry because your doctor never visited or called you while you were recuperating in rehab.
Your doctor never picked up the phone to see how you were feeling after you were discharged from the hospital.
You feel it was all his fault.
He never admitted any wrongdoing.
He never took responsibility for what happened to you.
He simply said you suffered a known complication that was a risk of the surgery.
He never even apologized.
The more you think about it, the angrier you get.
While sitting at home, with daytime TV in the background, you open up your laptop and go online.
You heard about physician review sites where patients leave reviews about their doctors.
You begin searching your doctor to see if other patients left any reviews about him.
There are a handful of reviews, all positive.
You begin to think it's important for you to tell the public about what your doctor did to you.
You begin to think the world needs to know what your doctor did to you.
You feel it is your duty to alert other patients about how careless your doctor was.
You want to make sure that no other patient suffers the same type of harm and injury that you are going through.
You begin writing.
You have plenty to tell.
You have your whole story to tell.
Your story goes on and on.
For paragraphs and paragraphs.
By the time you are done you have written pages.
You copy and paste this detailed review and begin posting it on every doctor's review site you can find.
You then go on to different patient forums to alert those people never to go to your doctor.
You explain that he is horrible.
You explain that he caused you horrible injury.
You repeat your story over and over again with the clear caution that other patients should never go to him because he is incompetent.
You feel better mentally now.
Days later, as you go back and read the review that you wrote.
You gave the doctor only 1 out of 5 stars.
You've done your job.
You've done your civic duty.
You're happy that you alerted the world to beware of your terrible physician.
Yet you feel your job is not over.
You feel your friends, social media followers and family need to know about him as well.
You go on to your Facebook account, your Twitter account and LinkedIn account and start posting detailed messages about what horrible injuries you suffered because your doctor was incompetent.
You name him.
You list his office address.
You detail his wrongdoing.
You name his nurses and assistants.
You name the hospital.
You name the nursing staff at the hospital.
People you never heard of leave expressions of sympathy on your Facebook feed.
People start threads on your comments telling you about their horror stories with their own doctor.
Some leave comments that they know your doctor.
They affirm they would never go to him and never recommend family or friends because of what he did to you.
You like what you are accomplishing.
You feel you are doing the right thing.
Over the next couple of months you begin to realize you might have a valid basis for a medical malpractice case here in New York.
You begin to research who would be the best attorney to handle your matter.
You don't know an experienced medical malpractice attorney in New York who can help you.
Nor do you know someone who could recommend their trusted lawyer.
That prompts you to go online and sift through the drivel of attorney marketing nonsense that is currently online.
You come across an attorney who provides you with great information.
He provides you with free books that you download immediately.
He provide you with hundreds of educational videos.
He offers you hundreds and thousands of articles about how these types of lawsuits work.
You decide he is the right lawyer for you and your case.
During your first meeting with your new attorney, you neglect to mention all the comments and negative reviews you left online about your doctor.
Your attorney does his due diligence on your malpractice case and obtains all of your medical records.
He sends your records to a board-certified medical expert to review.
A few months later, your attorney tells you that his medical expert confirms that your doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.
Your attorney tells you that your expert also confirmed that the doctors' wrongdoing was a cause of your injury.
Your attorney tells you that his expert believes that your injuries are significant and permanent.
As if you didn't know that.
That now allows your attorney to start a lawsuit on your behalf.
Your lawyer believes you have a strong case.
He believes the defense will fight this case on the medical issues involved.
A few weeks later, when he receives the answers to your allegations in this lawsuit, he is shocked.
He is shocked that the doctor's attorney has raised more than the typical defenses that usually arise in a medical malpractice case.
In a malpractice case, the defense typically argues three things...
(1) Don't blame us, we did nothing wrong.
(2) If we did something wrong, so did you.
(3) If we did something wrong and you also did something wrong and now we are required to pay you money for your injuries, your injuries are not really as bad as you claim them to be.
In law, we call those affirmative defenses.
But your attorney calls you frantically.
He tells you that your doctor and his attorney are now suing YOU!
They're suing you for libel and slander.
They are suing you within your own lawsuit in what is legally known as a counterclaim.
The doctor and his attorney are now claiming that they have identified all of the negative reviews and comments that you left online.
They are claiming that you ruined the doctor's reputation.
They are claiming that you destroyed the doctor financially.
They are claiming that you now owe the doctor significant amounts of money as compensation for all of the awful things you said about him online.
Your attorney tells you that if he learned this information during your initial meeting with him, he would never would have taken your case.
You have dug a hole for yourself.
A big one.
Now, instead of fighting this lawsuit just on the medicine with medical experts, you have complicated it by introducing claims of libel and slander.
That means you are fighting two battles at the same time.
That means that there is a good chance your medical malpractice attorney will be unable to defend you in your libel & slander claim.
It is highly likely that you will need to hire a separate attorney to defend you in this counterclaim.
If you have specific insurance that covers you for this type of claim, your insurance company will then retain a defense lawyer in order to defend this part of your lawsuit.
This will certainly make for an awkward scenario during the discovery phase of your case as well as during pretrial questioning and certainly at trial.
The defense loves to shift blame whenever and wherever they can.
When the defense raises a significant counterclaim such as libel and slander, and the facts support their claim, they will do everything in their power to get the jury to focus on their claim rather than you focusing on your claim.
When you wrote those online comments and negative reviews, you thought you were fulfilling your civic duty to alert the world to your incompetent doctor.
The fact that your doctor may be incompetent is only one issue.
The fact that you have publicized your thoughts, comments and rants will be the subject of extensive testimony, evidence and questions for the jury to evaluate to determine whether you are now on the hook to pay your doctor a substantial amount of money for harming his online reputation.