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Should I call back a law firm group requesting me to discuss my involvement with a patient I took care of 3 years ago ?

Lyndhurst, NJ |

I took care of a patient 3 years ago with a pressure ulcer wound at a nursing home as a wound care nurse. I no longer work there. Along with the letter from the lawyer, I was sent a copy of my documentation. I don't want to get involved in this law suit. The patient is suing the nursing home.

The lawyer for the nursing home found me not the patient's lawyer. Does it still make a difference ?

Attorney Answers 4


This is very common. Certainly, you do not have to return the call if you don't want to. However, ultimately they have the legal ability to subpoena you and force you to attend a deposition. At the deposition, attorneys for both the plaintiff and the nursing home would be present and they'd ask you all the questions they want. It is possible that by making the call now, the information you provide could help you to avoid the depo. On the other hand, you might want to call the nursing home admin and tell them about this. Their own attorneys may want to talk to you first. For example: what if you committed malpractice? It would be better to explore this and not immediately expose yourself to the plaintiff's attorneys' questions.

The bottom line is that you will likely become involved in the lawsuit whether you like it or not.

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It is clear that plaintiff's lawyers have found you and made contact with you, but your inquiry is silent as to what the letter to you requested. At the end of the day, if they want to sit down with you and ask you questions, that will happen. It is also unclear what the status of the patient is and whether a claim is actively being pursued at this time. I can understand your interest in not getting involved, but my guess is that taking that route will simply delay things and not make them go away. It is possible that you may have some exposure to liability for any damages claimed, although it would probably be covered by your employers insurance. Your duty to cooperate with your employer's insurance carrier should be your highest priority as a failure to do that may jeopardize coverage for you. Therefore, I would suggest you contact the risk manager at the nursing home and seek their advice as to how to proceed.

No information provided in response to these questions can be relied upon in any way without further personally consulting with Attorney Kerrigan and Attorney Kerrigan consulting personally with you regarding your specific legal situation.

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Call the lawyer from the nursing home

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If the injury relates to the pressure ulcer, and you were one of the nurses caring for the pressure ulcer, and a lawsuit has arisen from this injury – then you are at risk of becoming a defendant in this lawsuit.

Even though the lawsuit occurred 3 years ago, the injured person could have filed a complaint which included John and Jane Doe defendants, which are temporary fictitious name for the nurses who cared for the injured person. This is quite common when the names of the nurses are unclear from the medical records, so there is no way before the lawsuit for the attorney for the injured person to name you in the lawsuit.

After getting your name in the discovery process of the lawsuit, the plaintiff attorney then has a right to amend the complaint to name you as a direct defendant.

You should determine whether the insurance coverage for the nursing home includes medical malpractice coverage for you, or whether you had your own independent medical malpractice coverage.

If you had your own, you should contact your own insurance carrier to notify them of the request to talk to you, and possibly even assign you an attorney, whose job it will be to become familiar with the case, review your medical records and documentation, and represent you at a deposition, if it goes that far, with the ultimate goal of keeping you out of the lawsuit. Your insuance carrier may even, and likely does, require this notice of a potential claim.

If you didn’t have your own, but were using the insurance coverage of the nursing home, then you should ascertain from the defense attorney whether they are “representing” you as well, so that anything you tell that attorney will be protected.

The last thing you want to do is go to a deposition, where you are under oath, and get questioned by the plaintiff attorney, without any preparation or review of the medical records. You may end up as a defendant as a result, and put yourself unknowingly into a difficult position to defend yourself at trial because you implicated yourself with damaging statements at the deposition.

Each case is fact senstive, so all answers should be viewed as general advice only, and should never replace a thorough and in depth consultation with an experienced attorney. Further, an answer should not be seen as establishing an attorney-client relationship.

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