Medical Malpractice Cases
In a recent Pennsylvania Common Pleas case, a Judge ruled that if a jury so decides, a doctor may potentially be found to be liable for his patient’s injuries – a patient who was injured in a car accident after leaving his office an hour after passing out during an examination. Apparently, the patient who became a plaintiff due to his automobile accident injuries was enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program where he was receiving regular medical help including methadone treatment. Although the patient passed out during his treatment, the doctor felt he was okay to drive his motor vehicle from the office only an hour later.
The judge was asked to make a ruling on what is called a Summary Judgment Motion. This is a Motion where the defendant attempts to stop the case from being decided that by a jury, and instead requests that the judge throw the case out. The Judge ruled however, that there was enough of a factual dispute to require that it be heard before a jury who would be in the best position to determine the accuracy and credibility of the witnesses’ testimony.
This case is very similar to other medical provider and doctor liability cases where they are charged with making certain decisions or implementing restrictions depending on the patient’s condition and circumstance. For example, if a psychiatrist recognizes that a patient is acutely suicidal or homicidal and lets that patient leave his or her office without doing anything more, he or she could possibly be held responsible for injuries caused by the patient.
This is also somewhat akin to what we call the Liquor Dram Shop cases where a bartender serves a person alcohol who he or she sees is visibly intoxicated. The bartender could arguably be held liable for serving that person more alcohol and then permitting the intoxicated patron to drive away from the premises causing an accident. It is also similar to a case where someone gives the car keys to a person who he or she knew was too intoxicated to drive.
This is why the judge decided that the methadone case was to be heard by a jury so that it could hear both sides of the issue; learn all the relevant facts and then determine if the doctor was negligent.
Peter has been featured as the “Top Main Line Attorney for Medical Malpractice for Patients” by the editors of Main Line Today magazine.
From the article, featured in the August 2011 edition of Main Line Today:
Peter J. Hart’s thirst for spirited dialogue and his uncommon empathy for his clients came in handy during the three-year case of a client crushed between a truck and a bulldozer. “His back pain forced him to lie on the floor in my conference room during his deposition,” Hart says. “Five defense attorneys were peppering him with questions when, at one point, he quipped, ‘I guess I’m going to have to take this lying down.’”
Thank you to the clients who have nominated Peter for this award!
Karp & Hart, PC is pleased to announce that Peter Hart has been selected as a top lawyer in the areas of personal injury litigation and medical malpractice litigation in the Main Line Today Magazine which serves Philadephia’s western suburbs for 2010. This is the third year he has received such an honor.
Karp & Hart, PC is also pleased to announce that Stephen Karp has been selected as a top lawyer by Main Line Today Magazine in the area of medical malpractice litigation for 2010.
Even though I have practiced law for over thirty-five years, I still haven’t seen everything! For instance:
1. One of my clients had to be airlifted to a trauma center by a helicopter following a terrible car crash. The helicopter bill was more than $16,000! This was for a fifteen minute helicopter ride. What was more amazing was that even though his car insurance paid $10,000, the helicopter company still wanted the remaining $6,000 from my client. If you need more information on insurance coverages, please call Steve Karp or Peter hart.
2. Medical experts who testify in medical malpractice cases can get away with charging exorbitant fees for their testimony. In my last medical malpractice case, a doctor charged $20,000 for a report. He wanted an additional $15,000 to testify in court at trial. If those same doctors were seeing patients in their offices, they would be getting about $250 an hour from Medicare. Unfortunately, it is very hard for us to find physicians to testify against other doctors. This, despite the fact that the client may have an extremely meritorious case and fairness would cry out for physicians to offer testimony against other physicians who have acted incompetently. Unfortunately, most doctors are unwilling to testify against other doctors. It is only the few, the proud and the brave who are secure enough in their positions and understand the need to police their profession, who come forward to assist. With that, however, comes a large price tag. Stephen M. Karp, Esquire