Can I settle a potential medical malpractice law suit for injuries and damages with a doctor without filing a lawsuit?

Asked about 2 years ago - Canton, OH

No attorney wanted 2 handle my med mal case because it is not feasible 4 them. I elected 2 handle this case on my own. I wrote the doctor a lengthy letter stating the incident & his negligence. I instructed him 2 turn the letter over to his insurance company. I've done research & every site stated the doctor would panic & call his insurance carrier. This doctor did not. He requested I meet w/ him & discuss the matter. In this meet he admitted he made an error in prescribing me the wrong med. He mentioned that he may b able to handle this w/out filing a civil suit. He suggested a monetary settlement & threw out figures of a few thousand dollars but said he didn't know what my damages were worth or how to come up w/ a fair amount. Is this legal 4 me to ask him for a certain amount 4 damages?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Joseph Jonathan Brophy

    Contributor Level 20

    6

    Lawyers agree

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    Answered . Yes, it is perfectly legal for you to ask for a certain amount for damages. If the doctor is willing to negotiate you would be well advised to obtain legal counsel to help you settle the case fora fair amount. If the retainer is for a limited purpose, you should be able to find a lawyer to advise you for a reduced fee. By the way, medical malpractice cases very rarely settle in claim. If the insurance company becomes involved and your are unrepresented the chances of you settling your case are near zero.

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  2. Gerald Scott Leeseberg

    Contributor Level 7

    2

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . It is permissible to settle a claim without an attorney. However, you would be ill-advised to try to do so, since you would have no idea of knowing how to properly evaluate a potential settlement. We often assist patients in situations such as yours (or, similarly, people with small auto accident claims) by advising them what they can do to attempt to resolve their claims without an attorney, and we would be happy to try to assist you. I can also provide you with the name of an excellent medical malpractice attorney in Canton to assist you as well.

  3. Andrew Michael Korduba

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes, it is "legal" to settle your claim with the doctor directly, without his insurance company. However, his insurance company would likely drop him immediately if they found out he did so without their knowledge/consent. That being said, you can discuss and negotiate how much he will pay you - that is not "illegal." You claim that when you met with him, he admitted giving you the wrong medication. This is just STEP 1 of 'malpractice." STEP 2 is whether or not you sufferred any legitimate and legally provable "injury" as a result of him giving you the wrong medication. I assume from your statement that "no attorney wanted to handle my case" that you either had "no injury" or a "nominal injury" (i.e. no permanent injury or condition caused by this mistake). Thus, the "value" of your claim would not exceed the money it would cost to pursue the matter at law. Medical Malpractice cases REQUIRE a medical "Expert" to provide proof that: (a) the doctor violated the "ordinary standard of care" which in this case, may be the easy part; and (b) that this 'mistake" caused you significant, serious, permanent injury that has a lot of monetary value. Your case sounds like a "mistake" was made, but it caused you little or no real "injury." Thus, no Medical Malpractice lawyer would take your case. The STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS for Medical Malpractice in Ohio is ONE (1) year from the date of the incident. Thus, you MUST settle your claim with the doctor, or file a lawsuit against him within ONE (1) year. Failure to do so "forever" waives your right/ability to pursue collection of money damages for this incident. Good luck!

  4. Marc Edward Stewart

    Contributor Level 16

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with Mr. Brophy. In the jurisdictions where I practice, the chance of a civilian settling a pre-lawsuit claim with a physician's insurance company is zero. Why? The insurance company knows (1) you can't find legal help or have decided not to; (2) you wouldn't survive 6 months in a lawsuit without legal assistance; (3) you likely don't have the resources or contacts to find, pay, and retain the correct medical experts to support your claim; and (4) they have decades of past cases where they've successfully plowed over poor folks like you. Lastly, they know that Ohio has passed anti-plaintiff, poor-doctor tort reform to make your task even harder.

    Now, to answer your question directly: yes, it is "legal" for you to demand a certain amount of money. I would try to be very, very reasonable so the physician doesn't just hand over the claim to his insurance carrier. You've lost at that point. When you make the dollar-figure demand, try to back it up with evidence to justify it (like medical bills, lost wages, or something tangible).

    Keep in mind that the likely reason you can't find legal help is because your claim would never be successful in a lawsuit. Recognize this as an indication of your weak leverage. If the doctor is willing, I'd take what he is offering. That said, I'm not licensed in Ohio and I don't know your laws very well. Try to at least get a little competent advice from a local attorney if at all possible.

  5. Joseph Torri

    Contributor Level 17

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You may settle the matter without filing a lawsuit. It sounds like the doctor wants to avoid reporting this matter to his insurance carrier, because they may drop him or increase his payments. Armed with this knowledge, you should consult with a local personal injury attorney to see if he or she can assist you with settlement. Attorneys should be more willing to represent you knowing that the doctor is willing to settle. If a personal injury attorney still doesn't want to represent you, contact some general law practitioners for assistance. There has got to be an attorney that will help you. You can always test the waters by doing it yourself, but that is risky. Also, cases in general can be settled out of court and without filing a lawsuit. Please mark the tab below if this response is helpful.

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