He was the BEST!
You treated with him for many years.
All without any problem.
You trusted him.
You referred friends and family to him.
He could do no wrong by you.
Except for now.
Now you're in excruciating pain.
Now you're wondering if you'll walk again.
Now you're trying to figure out how to do your basic daily activities.
You confronted your doctor.
In follow up visits.
He said he was sorry.
He felt bad for what happened.
At first, he refused to take any responsibility for his actions.
Then you confronted him again.
He finally acknowledged his actions caused your injury.
He said this to you in his office.
With the door closed.
You didn't record it.
But you know he said it.
It was crystal clear.
Your doctor again apologized.
He promised to pay you $10,000 now and $25,000 next year.
It sounded good to you.
You didn't expect this.
You weren't really looking for money.
You just wanted him to acknowledge what he did was wrong.
You agreed to his offer.
Before your doctor will write a check, he needs you to sign this document.
Your doctor conveniently pulls out a document for you to sign.
It's a 'waiver'.
It says that by agreeing to sign this document you give up your right to sue him.
You give up this right in exchange for his promise to pay you $10,000 now and $25,000 next year.
Then you thank him for being so generous.
He walks you out and you go home feeling good.
It's been a long time since you felt this good.
Weeks go by.
Nothing from your doctor.
No check in the mail.
You call his office to find out when you'll get your payment.
Days go by.
Weeks go by.
You call again.
"This is important," you tell the receptionist.
She promises to give him the message.
Days turn into weeks.
Weeks turn into months.
You make a follow up appointment with your doctor.
You're getting fed up.
You feel he's ignoring you.
You can't get an appointment.
For the next four months.
The receptionist tells you he has no appointment for the next four months.
How could that be?
Finally, you decide to go into his office without an appointment.
You're going to demand to see him.
He'll have to see you.
If not, you'll make a big stink in the waiting room.
You drive over to his office.
You walk into a packed waiting room.
You march right up to the receptionist.
You give her your name and tell her you need to see the doctor immediately.
"It's an emergency."
She checks her computer and says "The doctor is totally booked today and cannot see any emergencies. You should go to the emergency room if this is an emergency. If you can't get there, I'll call a taxi for you or if you're that sick I'll call an ambulance. What would you like me to do?"
Your body is tensing up.
Your stress level is rising.
You feel your blood beginning to boil.
"In that case, I'll let the doctor know you're here, but in all likelihood, you're going to have to wait till he finishes seeing all his patients for the day."
He is ignoring you.
He wants nothing to do with you.
The receptionist pretends to go in the back.
She comes out a few minutes later.
You realize you're not going to get very far.
You don't want to stalk him.
Nor do you want to wait in the parking lot for him to come out and accost him.
Instead, you decide to write him a harsh letter.
A letter that basically says “What the heck?”
You draft your letter.
You reiterate your agreement.
You reiterate his promise to pay you.
What you don't realize is that your time to start a lawsuit against him is ticking.
Two pages of well-written details demanding payment.
You sign it.
You're happy you put your thoughts on paper.
You put a stamp on it.
You drop it in the mail the next day.
You expect a response.
You expect him to reply.
You expect him to call you.
You envision him knocking at your door handing you your check.
Days go by.
You have no doubt that your doctor is ignoring you.
The final straw has been broken.
You have lost your patience.
You realize you need to find an attorney.
You want to enforce the agreement that you signed.
You talk to five excellent attorneys.
None want to take your case.
You call another five attorneys.
None of them want to get involved.
While talking to one attorney in his office, he begins to ask you questions about the events that led up to this 'agreement'.
The more questions he asks the more he thinks your doctor deviated from good and accepted medical practice.
He gets the feeling that your doctor caused you harm.
Your attorney does not know the details contained in the agreement you signed.
Your attorney tells you that he's going to investigate your matter.
He wants to get your medical records.
He wants to start looking into whether you have a valid medical malpractice case.
That could take weeks and months.
Then he's going to have a qualified medical expert review all of your records.
Of course, he's also going to review all of your records, page by page.
You agree to do this.
He lets you know that he obtained your doctor's medical records.
They are very interesting.
But they tell only half the story.
Even more interesting is that the agreement that you made with the doctor is not in your medical record.
Your attorney questions your memory but accepts it as true for now.
He also tells you that if you signed a waiver, you may be unable to bring a lawsuit unless there are certain things in that document that violate public policy.
That may make the document void.
Also, if your doctor failed to live up to his agreement, that may also void the document.
So here's what happens next...
Your attorney sends all of your medical records to a board-certified expert for review.
A few weeks later your attorney calls you to let you know that his expert has confirmed you have a valid case.
You never intended to sue your doctor.
You never sued anyone in your life.
Filing a lawsuit is not in your blood.
It's just not something you or anyone in your family has done before.
He's clearly breached his promise to you.
He's clearly violated your trust.
You cannot return to him as a patient.
That trusting relationship between doctor and patient is gone.
You're doing this to obtain compensation for all the harms, losses and damages you suffered because he was careless.
Your attorney tells you that he's going to be filing a lawsuit in the next few days.
After he files your lawsuit, he will deliver the lawsuit papers to the doctor.
He'll do this using a someone called a 'process server'.
There are specific ways those lawsuit papers must be delivered.
Ideally, we want to hand deliver them to the doctor.
If we are unable to personally deliver those papers to the doctor, there are different methods to deliver to him.
One way is to leave it with someone authorized to accept legal papers on his behalf.
That might be his lawyer.
Your attorney also tells you that because you're time to file your lawsuit is running out, you must do this immediately.
If he waits another few months, your time to file your lawsuit will be gone forever.
You start dreaming about the doctor's expression as he gets your lawsuit.
You hope he gets the shock of his life when he sees you are suing him.
A month later your attorney calls you to let you know that the attorney for the doctor has replied to the allegations in your lawsuit.
Naturally, they deny everything in your lawsuit.
Here are four defenses that a doctor will usually raise when a patient brings a lawsuit against him.
Now that you have started your lawsuit, your attorney begins to ask for lots of documents.
He sends a letter to the defense lawyer DEMANDING certain documents.
He asks for copies of your medical records.
He asks for a copy of the waiver that you signed in his office.
Shortly after, the defense attorney asks for copies of medical records and permission slips from YOUR lawyer.
He wants permission to obtain copies of ALL your medical records from ALL of your treating doctors and hospitals for the past three years.
He wants copies of whatever medical records your lawyer has in his file.
You should know that each attorney must comply with these requests.
You put your medical condition in issue.
The defense has a right to learn about your medical care and treatment.
Even if took place years before you saw the doctor whom you are suing.
They will allow the defense lawyer do get copies of your medical records directly from your doctors.
Soon after, your lawyer calls you to give you bad news.
He tells you the defense lawyer asked the judge to dismiss your lawsuit.
"WHAT??? HOW COULD THAT BE?" You ask your lawyer in a frenzy.
In the doctor's office.
The one where he quietly whispered this was a way to avoid getting any attorneys involved.
The defense lawyer argues you gave up your right to sue your doctor.
There might be good news though.
Hopefully, that will void this agreement.
In other words, your doctor never paid you what he promised to pay you.
Let's go back for a moment to when you signed this waiver.
The document said that you agree to give up your right to bring a lawsuit against your doctor.
The problem is that your doctor never paid you a dime.
Now he is trying to enforce that document.
Your attorney will argue that because your doctor did not make any payment, the agreement is not effective and cannot be enforced.
If your doctor has failed to live up to his side of the bargain, the judge could certainly say that the waiver cannot be enforced.
That would certainly throw a monkey wrench into the mix and create a dilemma for the judge.
A confusing situation, isn't it?
That's why you NEVER sign such a WAIVER without advice of counsel.
Doing so can significantly impair your ability to bring a lawsuit against your physician.