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Malpractice in Alabama; Tough Laws Protect Doctors, Penalize Injured Patients, on
While the rate of medical malpractice payments are down across the country,
patients in Alabama may have the hardest time when seeking restitution.
Data from the National Practitioner Data Bank suggests that approximately
9 out of 10 patients who file medical malpractice suits within the state
will be unsuccessful. Take, for example, the story of William Hoston.
In 2006 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and underwent a year of
painstaking treatment before it was discovered that his cancer never existed.
In 2008, Hoston filed a medical malpractice claim seeking damages for unnecessary
treatments as well as his pain and suffering. Hoston’s suit was
thrown out by the judge. He died in 2011 from heart and lung conditions
that his wife believes were a direct result of unnecessary chemotherapy
treatments. To understand why this case was thrown out, it is important
to look at a few of the regulations surrounding malpractice claims in Alabama.
Why Are Malpractice Cases in Alabama Hard to Win?
There are a number of factors which set Alabama malpractice claims apart.
Strict limits are placed on the time a patient has to file a claim. The judge in Mr. Hoston’s case determined that the alleged malpractice
occurred outside of the statute of limitations. While Hoston’s lawyers
argued that the malpractice was ongoing throughout treatment, the judge
determined that it only occurred at the time of diagnoses, more than 2
Medical malpractice suits within the state must focus exclusively on the plaintiff. Unlike in some other personal injury cases, the accused’s previous
misconduct cannot be used as evidence or used to influence a jury. This
can be frustrating as many doctors who face lawsuits have been accused
multiple times in the past. In fact, the doctor who treated Mr. Hoston
later had his medical license revoked for malpractice.
Expert witnesses must testify in favor of the victim. While this is normal of injury suits, Alabama has strict rules about
who qualifies as an expert witness. The plaintiff must secure the services
of a doctor who has the same experience as the accused. The reality is
that not many doctors will testify against one another and victims often
must seek professionals from out of state.
A History of Malpractice Claims
The exceptionally strict laws may be a result of legislation which dates
back to 1987. The 80’s saw a surge in malpractice claims, leading
to what some refer to as a crisis in the insurance world. Costs increased
and businesses were forced out of the industry after suffering major losses.
The spike in malpractice payments provided the push to tighten the regulations
on claims. While this may have reduced the instances of fraudulent claims,
Alabama’s current malpractice regulations make it difficult for
victims to receive the compensation that they desperately need.
Help for Victims of Medical Malpractice
When you have been injured in an accident or fallen ill, you place your
trust in doctors to provide proper medical care throughout the duration
of your treatment. When that trust is broken and further injuries occur,
medical professionals can be held accountable for their actions. If you
believe that you have been the victim of malpractice, Morris, Cary, Andrews,
Talmadge & Driggers, LLC want to hear your story. Our personal injury
attorneys have more than a century of combined experience during which
time we have recovered millions of dollars for past clients.
Call (888) 694-0174 to request a FREE consultation and speak to an attorney
about your case.