All stories of medical malpractice are deeply saddening. But in 2010, a young woman came into our offices with a particularly tragic tale. She underwent a gynecological procedure known as a D&C which was uneventful. However, when it came to follow-up care, her doctor was clearly negligent — to the extent that this young woman suffered a great deal of severe pain, and lost her ability to have children in the future.
It was all just so unnecessary. In what should have been a routine follow-up by her doctor, a basic error was made and now she will never be able to get pregnant again.
Unfortunately, the story gets worse for our client.
You see, the doctor and his professional association elected to not have any medical malpractice insurance. They simply decided to practice medicine and surgery with no professional liability insurance whatsoever which should have been available to compensate any of their patients injured through medical malpractice.
Why does it matter? Because even though we filed suit on behalf of our client, took the case to court and tried it to a verdict before a jury — and won a verdict in the amount of One Million Dollars — the doctor and his practice group do not intend to pay one penny to their patient. This young woman will never recover anything from the doctor because, unfortunately, there are ways he can avoid paying any of the verdict, including claiming personal bankruptcy. Unfair? Incredible.
I don’t have any direct evidence, but here is what I believe happened: the doctor and his group made a “strategic” decision to not buy malpractice liability insurance so that they could avoid paying anything to any of their patients they injured through malpractice.
I further believe that part of the plan included the fact that without professional liability insurance, their patients would have an almost impossible time finding a lawyer who would be willing to take their cases. Because if there is no insurance involved, the patients would not be paid, and the lawyers would not be paid to represent them. After all, it is common knowledge that plaintiffs’ lawyers agree to contingency fee agreements of retainer. Simply put, a plaintiff’s lawyer such as myself does not get paid one penny of a legal fee until after a case is won or settled, and the funds are paid to the patient. It is only then that the plaintiffs’ lawyers obtain a legal fee. I believe the strategy employed by these doctors is to have no insurance, so that there will be no payment even in the case of a plaintiff’s verdict, and therefore plaintiffs’ lawyers would not take these cases to court. In my opinion, it is all a scheme to avoid getting sued and being responsible to patients who are injured as the result of medical malpractice.
But not in this case. I was proud when I presented the case to the partners at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. All of them, unanimously, decided to go forward with the case and not let the doctor get away with being so irresponsible. The partners understood how important it was that this case be filed and proceed to a jury verdict even though there was no prospect of obtaining a legal fee. The plaintiff’s further understand that the firm would lose thousands of dollars in engaging the services of medical experts needed to present the case.
Even though we knew there was no chance we would ever get paid — we took this case on with the same enthusiasm, professionalism and gusto that we invest into each of our cases. We took the case all the way to trial and verdict. And as I have indicated, we obtained a One Million Dollar judgment, just last month. The firm felt strongly that such a blatant case of malpractice should not be ignored, and that there must be some legal acknowledgment that our client was wronged and suffered horrendous injury — the inability to ever know the joy of motherhood.
Rest assured, that we at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. will continue to do everything we can to recover at least some of the award, but the prospects are poor.
The question presented by this case is painfully clear — why are Maryland citizens required to have insurance to drive a car, but their doctors are not required to have any liability insurance to practice medicine. Doctors in Maryland can perform the most intricate and complex surgery, prescribe medications, treat their patients in any manner they see fit with no insurance whatsoever. Does that policy make any sense?
We strongly believe that as a condition to practicing medicine in the State of Maryland, all doctors should be required to have malpractice insurance so that they are responsible and accountable if they injure, damage, disable, or even kill patients as a result of medical malpractice.