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The Associated Press reported yesterday that “Only 1 in 5 malpractice claims against doctors leads to a settlement or other payout, according to the most comprehensive study of these claims in two decades.” This confirms the up hill battle that we’ve seen with medical malpractice patients. Juries tend to give doctors the benefit of the doubt - even with gross errors. Of course, the insurance company backed propaganda/ads you see on TV claim that there are “runaway juries” and that we need more “tort reform.” The reality is that insurance companies will continue to advance their agenda to limit the rights of people in exchange for more and more profits. Accountability cuts into their bottom line. The AP article restates that “just a tiny fraction of the patients harmed by medical mistakes actually  file claims.” So does the fact that only 1 in 5 medical malpractice cases actually result in some type of recovery mean that there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits? Not at all. It’s much too expensive to bring a frivolous lawsuit. In Oklahoma, a doctor must review the file and advise the attorney handling the case if they think malpractice has actually occurred. The attorney then signs an affidavit that is filed with the petition. This relatively simple step can cost thousands of dollars. After the lawsuit is filed, depositions will also need to be taken. Doctors typically charge by the hour for this type of thing. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to charge $1000/hour for their time. Throw in the cost of a court reporter, and several depositions (for different experts) later, and...
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I received a funny email last week from an old client. The email tells of the story of a “runaway verdict” in Oklahoma: This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph  and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make  herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed  and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home. If you think the court system is out of control, be sure to pass this one on. Guess what? It’s an interesting story, but it’s totally false. The truth is that special interest groups (specifically billion dollar insurance companies) like us to believe that our court system is full of runaway verdicts. Can anyone name ONE in Oklahoma? Sure, there are some crazy lawsuits out there. The Facebook one is about a ton of money, for instance. Personal injury lawsuits in Oklahoma are because plaintiffs want to be reimbursed for their medical bills and something for their pain and suffering. It’s not a lottery system, but about plaintiffs...
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