How common is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is America's quiet epidemic, killing an estimated 440,000 Americans every year. And these authoritatively-estimates of "medical mistakes" only counts iatrogenic (doctor-caused) deaths in hospitals, not hospital-caused injuries or office-related injuries or deaths.
This makes doctors the third largest cause of death after heart disease and cancer. In fact, doctors cause more American deaths than all accidents (including car accidents), Alzheimer's Disease,diabetes, suicides, terrorism AIDS and homicides COMBINED!
The problem is not there are "too many" lawsuits: the problem is that there is too much malpractice. Doctors are too involved in protecting their colleagues and pocket books instead of protecting the patients they are duty-bound to protect!
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Once again, absolutely!
In addition to the rules that apply to all medical malpractice cases in California, all Kaiser members are bound (with few exceptions) by an agreement to arbitrate all claims against Kaiser. This means that, by being a Kaiser member, you have given up any right to sue Kaiser in court, to have your case open to public scrutiny or appeal, or to have the case decided by a jury.
Instead, the claim against Kaiser is resolved in an arbitration hearing (essentially a closed trial) in a private office. In these cases, the case is decided by an arbitrator (commonly a retired rent-a-judge) who sits with the mutual agreement of Kaiser's lawyers and Mr. Kapp. The arbitration is binding, meaning there is no right to appeal the decision of the "neutral arbitrator".
Mr. Kapp does prosecute cases against Kaiser. In 2012, for example, Mr. Kapp obtained the largest award against Kaiser in California for the entire year. This award was 3 times the amount of the second largest award and was obtained after Kaiser offered nothing in settlement.
While there are a few advantages to binding arbitration, generally Mr. Kapp and other qualified medical malpractice lawyers believe that a courtroom with a lay jury would be a better place to make a claim.
Are there special rules that apply only to medical malpractice cases against Kaiser?
There are many special rules that apply only to medical malpractice cases in California. generally known as MICRA (Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975). For example, a victim's recovery for "pain and suffering" is absolutely limited to $250,000. The statute of limitations (legal deadline to file file a lawsuit is also generally only 1 year (most other claims are 2 years) -- although claims against government entities (such as the County hospital) are generally only 6 months. Other restrictions include limited to attorney's fees (to make it difficult for patient victims to make any claims and many technical obstacles successfully lobbied by the doctors' lobby. You can read more here.
This arbitrary cap on damages is why it is particularly important that, when possible, a spousal claim should be always considered. In fact, it is legal malpractice for an attorney not to offer a spouse the opportunity to pursue a secondary claim for his or her damages. This legal malpractice requirement was established in 1995 in the case handled by Mr. Kapp. You can read that case here. In 2014, Proposition 46 sought to increase that amount to adjust for inflation but was defeated by a campaign heavily financed by the doctors and their insurance companies, including Kaiser.
MICRA is generally considered to be an outrageously anti-victim law designed only to protect doctors and their lobbyists.
Are there special rules that apply only to medical malpractice cases?
The word "malpractice" simply means professional negligence, or negligence done by any professional such as a doctor, lawyer, accountant, architect or whatever. The only difference between that form of negligence and negligence by a layperson (such as driving a car) is that the parties will require expert witnesses to tell the jury what is reasonable or not.
Still, there are many other distinctions between malpractice cases and non--malpractice cases, including, for example, the statute of limitations (legal deadlines).
What is "malpractice"?
The Law Offices of Howard A. Kapp are located in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, on Wilshire Blvd., just east of Western Avenue.
We handle cases throughout the major regions of California.
Where are you located?
Law Offices of Howard A. Kapp
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