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Myth that there are certain types of people who file medical malpractice lawsuits

I get several phone calls a day from potential clients calling to see if they have a medical malpractice case. And until the medical establishment really focuses its efforts on patient safety, I will keep getting calls. That’s because medical negligence is at an epidemic level. In fact, medical error is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer. And my phone rings because my law firm and I exclusively represent victims of medical mistakes. That’s all we do.

Here’s something strange about the calls I get: almost every day, one of the callers tells me that he or she isn’t the type of person who files a lawsuit. “I’m not one of those people,” they say. This drives me crazy and makes me mad, but I try hard not to show my frustration or anger.

“I’m not the type of person who files a lawsuit.” What exactly does that mean? Is there something wrong with someone who files a lawsuit? (I sure hope not, as I have dedicated my career to doing just that.) Are people who file lawsuits bad? Are they evil even? Are they greedy or just looking to hit the lottery? What exactly is it about people who file lawsuits that makes so many people want to tell me that aren’t one of “those people”?

What I want to say back sometimes is: “Of course you’re one of those people. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have called me. And, I am a lawyer, and suing people – negligent doctors and

hospitals in particular – is what I do. So, I am one of those people, and so are you. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

What’s going on here? Well, the truth is that people who file lawsuits have gotten a bad rap. Some of it may well be deserved. We all can name a few examples of ridiculous lawsuits that have been filed over the years. But for every ridiculous lawsuit you have heard of, there are tens of thousands of legitimate lawsuits filed. Maybe callers fear that their friends and neighbors will look down on them for filing a lawsuit, lumping them in with the guy who sued for $65 million dollars because some dry cleaner lost his pants, or the guy who went after Michael Jordan for $52 million because he claimed to be frequently mistaken for the basketball legend.

The feeling that there’s something to be ashamed of because you’re filing a lawsuit is wrong. You are, after all, merely seeking to hold accountable someone who has wronged you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, wealthy insurance companies and their fancy lobbyists have for years worked on shaping public opinion about lawsuits, and they have done a terrific job of it. People now actually feel like they are doing something shameful by sticking up for themselves, or by insisting that those who have screwed up fix the problems they have caused and make up for the harms that cannot be fixed.

When it comes tomedical malpractice lawsuits, there is no one “type” of person who files suit. Victims of medical negligence come from all walks of life. That’s because no one is immune from the harm caused by careless medical professionals. Rich or poor; male or female; white or black; young or old; Democrat or Republican: everyone can be a victim of bad care.

And when you or a loved one is severely injured or killed through medical negligence, there are two choices: do nothing and let the negligent doctor or hospital get away with it; or do something, and hold that doctor or hospital accountable. In addition to ensuring accountability, filing a lawsuit may ensure that your past and future medical bills and health care needs are paid for — not by you or your insurance company — but by the person who caused your injury.

I am someone who isn’t afraid or embarrassed to file a lawsuit when it is appropriate to do so. I am one of “those people” who holds others accountable for their wrongful actions. And I am proud of it.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a medical error, please contact me online or give me a call at 216-687-0900. Just don’t tell me that you aren’t one of “those people.”