Lawyers who represent plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits face a number of challenges. The law is complicated and it recognizes that doctors are often faced with situations in which diagnosis and treatment are uncertain. Surgery poses obvious difficulties and risks. Often, doctors are faced with having to act in a timely manner and as a result have to use their judgment, based on imperfect information, in deciding on treatment. As a result, the law places a heavy evidential burden placed on the plaintiff to show a medical professional or a hospital was negligent. The plaintiff’s lawyer also faces complex scientific evidence, the need for multiple expert witnesses to prove liability, causation and damages. Furthermore, claims against physicians are defended by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, a body with substantial resources and expertise to fund skilled and aggressive defence counsel.
Medical malpractice trials can last for weeks. Lemer & Company’s out-of-pocket expenses on two recent cases that went to trial have exceeded $150,000 and $250,000, largely because of the high cost of hiring the most qualified expert witnesses drawn from universities around North America. Each case will require experts from a number of specialties to prove liability and causation. The proof of damages will require physicians, occupational therapists, vocational rehabilitation consultants and labour economists.
Since the British Columbia Government has changed the law to prohibit most ICBC lawsuits there has been a proliferation of personal injury law firms advertising themselves as medical malpractice specialists. The litigation of motor vehicle and slip and falls accidents is much less complicated than prosecuting medical malpractice claims. Before retaining counsel it is important to examine a law firm’s actual experience, expertise, resources and willingness to use their resources for the client’s benefit.
Lemer & Company acts for plaintiffs on a percentage fee basis and covers all expenses of cases we take on. Contact us for more information.