Read the full article, Malpractice in Alabama; Tough Laws Protect Doctors, Penalize Injured Patients, on www.al.com.
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 years previous.
- 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.