Posted by Bill Sandweg on 12 September 2016.
It is very difficult to get a verdict in favor of a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case in Phoenix, Arizona. It is not just Phoenix, of course. The same is true throughout the state of Arizona and may even be worse outside Phoenix where juries may be more conservative. If juries are trying to do the right thing, and I believe they are, why is it so difficult for a patient to prevail in court? It is certainly not because there is no such thing as medical malpractice. Every study ever done has shown that people die or are otherwise injured by malpractice in doctors’ offices and hospitals throughout the United States on a daily basis.
My personal belief is that juries don’t want to believe that there is malpractice. They want to believe that doctors and hospitals know what they are doing and that people only rarely are injured by malpractice. They want to believe their doctor when she says that the breast lump is not cancer or that the funny looking spot on the skin is not melanoma or any one of the many reassuring things people hear from doctors everyday. To believe that doctors and hospitals regularly make mistakes that kill and injure people is too horrible to contemplate. How does one know when to believe a doctor and when to disbelieve? What do you do if you can’t trust that your doctor is right? How do you sleep at night? No, it is easier to believe that doctors are usually right and that there is very little medical malpractice.
In my experience, the jury members must believe that a patient needs their help going forward with his or her life before they can get over the hump and find that the doctor or hospital committed malpractice. This means that even if you have over a million dollars in medical bills which were paid by insurance, the jury is unlikely to find in your favor. This means that, even if you went through years of hell but are now better, the jury is unlikely to find in your favor. This means that you do not want to hear me tell you that you have a strong medical malpractice case because I can’t say that unless you or a loved one has been killed or horribly and permanently injured.
Juries try to do the right thing but they are only human and, at least when it comes to medical malpractice cases, in spite of their best efforts, they often get it wrong.