10 months ago, I received a notice from the Mammography clinic where I had a mammogram done, in another state, advising me to have an MRI due to a suspicious test result. I spoke with the doctor at the hospital in Ganado, AZ about having it done. He examined me, & told me that he could not feel a lump, & told me that the MRI was not necessary. He told me "You do not have cancer, you don't need an MRI!". In December 2011, back home in Indiana, I found out that I have "advanced stage 4 cancer". I have roughly 1 year to live. My Oncology doctors have urged me to file suit against this "careless" doctor. I AM STAYING WITH MY PARENTS IN INDIANA. WHERE DO I NEED THE ATTORNEY TO BE LICENSED IN ORDER TO FILE SUIT?
First, don't accept Indiana doctor's prognosis as absolute gospel. I don't want to give you false hope, but I know several people given six months to live, five or more years ago. Keep the faith, an seek a second and third opinion. As for the Dr. (and perhaps the hospital) in Ganado AZ, you need to hire an attorney in Arizona as soon as possible to get the medical records, institute suit, and schedule your deposition - without which - the case will be more difficult to prove. Discuss with the attorney, his thoughts of filing the case in Federal Court - which might not be his preference - but with the right judge, and the right attorney on your side - get you to trial in under a year. There are pro's and con's of Federal Court, and their are pro's and con's in pushing the case forward on a fast track, but these are issues for you to raise and discuss. Good Luck.
First, I agree with the other commentators that you should stay positive and work hard to stave off this terrible disease. Second, I agree that you should so move quickly if you want to maximize your chances of success in litigation. To answer your question, you need a lawyer in Arizona. As a lawyer who actually practices medical negligence law in Arizona, however, I question why anyone would file a lawsuit in federal court where a verdict must be unanimous and the time to trial will almost certainly be significantly longer than in state court. I would be wary of any Arizona lawyer advising you to do this. I also agree that these are complicated cases and you will need to be able to prove that the cancer was essentially curable when you saw the physician in Ganado. That could be a significant hurdle. Finally, you need to determine how the physician that you saw was employed. There may be certain things you must do within a limited period of time to preserve your claim if the physician was working at a reservation facility.
You have a "failure to diagnose cancer" type of medical malpractice case, and you should search Avvo's "find a lawyer" for a medical malpractice lawyer in the city where the doctor who told you that you do not have cancer is located. Make sure the lawyer has had failure to diagnose cancer cases before, as they are very complex. I know, I've done a lot of them in Pennsylvania.
If the doctor who advised against the MRI was in AZ, you need to hire a lawyer in that state. Do not try to get your medical records, any reputable medical malpractice lawyer will do that for you if it seems to be a likely case. Failure to diagnose breast cancer is a scenario familiar to all experienced medical malpractice lawyers. As Mr. Lassen correctly pointed out, these can be complex cases. How they play out depends on numerous facts as well as the law of the state on value of a chance of cure. Some states's laws make these very hard cases to win, others such as NY where I practice have legal rules that are less harsh. If you don't find a lawyer on Avvo who seems suitable, check the websites of the AAJ (American Association for Justice) or the NBTA (National Board of Trial Advocacy). Good luck to you.
I can't speak for other attorneys, but I supect the problem that you are running into is twofold. First, is the question of who will be party to the claim if your fatal prognosis proves true? In Arizona, an individual's claim for pain and suffering evaporates when they pass away. So the only surviving claims would be for the grief and loss of financial of surviving parents of children. Second is the question of causation. You're not suing for getting cancer, you are suing for damages resulting from the delay. This raises a question of whether, given the extent of your cancer when diagnosed, would a diagnosis ten months earlier have changed the prognosis significantly? The claimant has to prove this to a probability, not a mere possibility. I am not discouraging you from seeking an attorney. It often takes mutiple calls to find someone to look at your case. Most serious med mal attorneys turn down 40 people for everyone we gather records on. One final thought -- IF you cannot find an attorney, you might consider making a complaint to the medical board. I wouldn't do it while you are trying to get an attorney, because attorneys generally prefer not to put claim related information in writing until the case is resolved lest the statements in the complaint be used against you. God bless you (again) for your courage and determination.
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