When a claim is brought against a physician in America today, the victim of medical negligence, as well as his or her attorney, is embarking upon a formidable task. Somehow most defendants in such cases are unable to admit that they are capable of making a mistake.
Spurred by cries for "reform," the remedy itself has been severely limited by legislation which has been passed under heavy lobbying by the insurance industry and medical community. These "tort reforms" have in some cases limited the rights of victims so severely that many seriously injured victims have no claim which can realistically be pursued.
With the defendant willing to go virtually to any length to vindicate him or herself, and a jury pool that has been poisoned by a barrage of biased and false information from the insurance industry and the medical profession, there have been a number of valid major medical negligence cases which have resulted in defense verdicts. Contributing to this is the exalted standing in the community in which members of the medical profession have traditionally held in American society.
The truth is that members of the medical community are really no different than the rest of us. They make mistakes just like everyone else, they are subject to the same foibles and weaknesses as everyone else. While the overwhelming majority practice good medicine, even those who practice good medicine occasionally make mistakes.
There are a few, however, who are just bad doctors. It has been conclusively established by well done studies such as the one done at the Harvard Medical School that a small group of physicians are responsible for severe injuries and deaths far out of proportion to their numbers in the profession. Yet, having been inflamed by the insurance industry, the medical profession has chosen to attack the legal system, and limit the rights of the victims of medical negligence rather than police itself.
The clamor that has been raised has generated a firestorm of criticism of the legal system, outcries for tort reform, and has created false beliefs among significant portions of the American people regarding malpractice litigation and the legal system. These are the people who sit on juries hearing these cases.
Expert medical testimony is required in order to prove a medical negligence case. This means that qualified physicians must be found who are willing to step forward on behalf of the victim and testify against another doctor. When a physician takes this courageous step the medical community has generally subjected him or her to a great deal of pressure. There are, however, distinguished physicians who have been willing to put principle ahead of popularity in order to correct a wrong and to improve the medical profession.
All of the foregoing -- coupled with the fact that only the most seriously injured victims' claims can be pursued because of the large expense involved -- make these cases extremely hard fought, emotionally taxing for both the attorney and the client, and far more difficult than any other litigation.