Why should I hire an attorney to represent me in a personal injury claim?
Whenever there’s a stampede, it’s important to look carefully to find the cause. People don’t move suddenly and in large numbers for no reason, after all. If there’s a dramatic increase in activity, it’s a good idea to find out why. The same holds true when it comes to lawyers. If you see attorneys taking action all of sudden and seemingly without warning it makes sense to pay attention and try to learn more about what might be going on.
That’s exactly what happened this past week in Kentucky where dozens and dozens of personal injury lawsuits were filed, much more than would normally occur in a typical week. According to data gathered by the Courthouse News Service, there were 111 medical malpractice personal injury cases filed in Kentucky courts last week. Of these, 68 cases claim that a hospital, nurse, doctor or nursing home was responsible for the wrongful death of a loved one.
So what explains the sudden rush to court? Did all these lawyers get the same idea at the same time? Wanted to have the paperwork out of the way to ensure plenty of time for July 4th cookouts? No, the lawyers knew that as of July 1, the law in Kentucky takes a dramatic change for the worse and will negatively impact those injured plaintiffs looking to file medical malpractice cases.
As of July 1, the law in Kentucky is set to change and plaintiffs will no longer be able to simply file a medical malpractice or wrongful death suit. The law has it roots in a statute signed back in March of this year by the governor. That law, known as Senate Bill 4, requires medical malpractice plaintiffs in Kentucky to first obtain approval from a medical malpractice review panel before they are allowed to file a suit in court.
The medical review panels are intended to evaluate the merits of potential medical malpractice claims. The supposed goal is to reduce the burden on courts by having those with medical expertise evaluate claims before they make their way in front of judge. The only way the panel can be avoided is if all parties to the case agree, a highly unlikely outcome. In reality, all plaintiffs who have been injured by hospitals, doctors, nursing homes or any other medical provider in Kentucky will be forced to undergo this costly and time-intensive review process before heading to court.
Once a panel of doctors is chosen, the plaintiff has 60 days to present evidence. The doctor or medical provider then gets 45 days to rebut the evidence. These deadlines can be extended in some cases. After that, the panel will issue one of three opinions. The panel can decide that the evidence supports the idea that medical malpractice occurred, that there was harm but that the harm was not likely caused by the medical provider or that the evidence does not show that any medical malpractice occurred. Only after the panel has issued its opinion, regardless of which of the three it is, can the plaintiff bring suit.
Critics of the lawyers say that the rush to the courthouse proves that the personal injury business is just that, a business, and not meant to help injured patients. Critics believe that there should be no stampede and claim that if the victim was truly injured as a result of medical malpractice, he or she should have no problem waiting for a medical review panel to examine the case.
But this argument misses the point entirely. Each of the 111 cases filed may have been able to pass the review panel with flying colors. Even then, it wouldn’t have been in the client’s best interest to wait around and find out. Kentucky personal injury attorneys are racing to court in the hope of having claims filed before the new law goes into effect, sparing their clients the cost and lost time of an extensive review by these medical panels. By filing before the new law applies, the patients can save time and money and hopefully get the justice they deserve on a somewhat faster timeline.
If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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