I’ve done numerous medical mediation sessions for my clients who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of hospital staff. In Wisconsin, a person who feels they have been injured as a result of the negligence of a health care provider must go through mediation before they can proceed with a lawsuit. The mediation process consists of a panel with three members consisting of an attorney, a lay person and a medical provider, hopefully, with some expertise in the area of medicine that is in question. Generally, the session starts and ends with the panel attempting to convince the claimant, our client, that they should seriously consider not filing a lawsuit for a variety of reasons. I am not sure if the legislator intended the purpose of the mediation to be to discourage lawsuits or not, but over the past 26 years and in representing hundreds of people with these types of claims it is apparent to me that the purpose of the session has little to do with helping an injured person.
The argument always is that the claimant (injured person) should consider both the emotional and financial costs associated with a lawsuit against a health care provider. That is sound advice because a lawsuit of any nature is emotionally difficult for a person going up against big corporations and insurance companies and it can also be very expensive. For the most part, most individuals cannot afford the cost of litigation if they had to pay the attorney by the hour and pay for the cost and expenses, which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, in advance or at the time they are incurred.
Our law firm, as do many law firms that represent victims injured as a result of professional negligence, front the expenses and do not get paid anything unless and until there is a recovery. That is not the point of this blog. The point is that over the past 26 years, I have had to sit in a room and listen to lawyers on behalf of doctors and other health care professionals deny any responsibility for their negligent acts. Even when presented with uncontroverted facts, they generally take the position that they didn’t do anything wrong, that it is probably the patient’s fault that something happened to him or her. Even if they admit the claimant is injured, they certainly are not injured nearly enough to warrant any substantial money to compensate them for their injuries.
One of the reasons that I get up every morning and go to work with excitement and anticipation is helping people even the “playing field” with big companies, hospitals, medical clinics and other people with a lot more money than my clients, especially in the Madison and Sauk County areas. Call it helping the underdog – in America we have always been for the underdog. In sports, fans love an underdog, unless it’s the Green Bay Packers and then they are always the favor, but you still love them! Our lawyers and staff would have a difficult time representing major corporations and hospitals in supporting a position of a denial of any responsibility for wrongdoing. If we meet with people who want to file lawsuits for their injuries and the facts do not warrant proceeding, we do not take those cases.
We take difficult cases but cases in which we believe in our client’s right to have their story heard and difficult cases when they are entitled. This is the reason we do what we do.
Although disappointed that many mediation sessions do not resolve the case in favor of our client, they do remind me that without our help, our clients, many times “underdogs”, would never have their day and voices heard.