One would think a medical malpractice lawsuit could — and would — evolve into a wrongful death lawsuit if the plaintiff were to pass away during proceedings, but that’s not what happened when Katrina Dennis sued the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. She accused the hospital and one of its doctors of medical malpractice for failing to prevent a recurrence of her breast cancer, but when she passed away the presiding judge dismissed her case.
That’s a tough pill to swallow for some, especially since Dennis was such an important member of the Baltimore community. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan described her relationship with the community in a tweet after she died: “Katrina was a top lawyer, a respected leader in the Baltimore region, and someone who lived each day committed to giving back to her community.”
The case’s dismissal has left some people asking how and why something like this could be allowed to happen. Was the case found frivolous by the presiding judge or the plaintiff’s own attorneys, or was it dismissed for yet another reason? In order for the case to have continued in court, it would have required the go ahead from Dennis’ attorneys. More likely a close family member could have picked up where Dennis left off, but decided against going to the trouble or prolonging a period of grief.
Dennis was a member of the Education Policy and Student Life Committee, the Organization and Compensation Committee, chair of the Coppin State University Presidential Search Committee, and a member on the Board of Regents.
She was suing the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center for a massive $24 million in damages after accusing the hospital and one of its doctors of not providing an appropriate standard of care. According to Dennis, the doctor led her into the false assumption that breast cancer could not recur once it was cured. She was first diagnosed in 2015, and hoped that would be it.
But then she underwent surgery to remove the cancerous tumor only to be diagnosed again in 2017. Breast cancer cells had multiplied to spread throughout her bones, blood, and organs. The case also details that Dennis believed she should have been placed on a drug called Tamoxifen to reduce the chances the cancer cells would continue to spread. It didn’t happen.
Dennis died in the middle of the two-week trial in the Baltimore County Circuit Court.
In news that will surprise absolutely no one, California and Massachusetts are sponsoring a legal challenge to Trump’s attempted amendment of a law that limits the amount of time that asylum-seeking migrants — and children especially — can be detained by authorities. Nineteen states have added themselves to the lawsuit. This brings the total number of California-represented legal challenges brought forward to the Trump Administration to a whopping 57.
Trump has a lot of support for making the change because his administration and several conservative media outlets have successfully spread the rumor that these asylum-seeking migrants have entered the United States illegally.
That isn’t the case.
In order to legally make a case for asylum in the U.S., migrants must first step foot in the country. They can apply if they are already living here (whether undocumented or not), but otherwise they must first cross into the country through a point of entry — such as El Paso.
And that’s exactly what the majority of the migrant population at the U.S.-Mexico border has done. Not only have they legally entered the country, but they’ve proceeded to legally apply for asylum here. And the Trump Administration has detained them for growing lengths of time, even though there are laws limiting how long the migrants can be kept in custody.
This should be easy for anyone to understand, conservative or not: the Trump Administration is flagrantly breaking the law; the asylum-seeking migrants are not. It’s very simple.
In addition, by law we are required to provide the migrants with basic necessities — because even our “prisoners” have rights. These include food, water, clothing, shelter and medical care when necessary. Those who have visited what have been correctly labeled concentration camps have pointed out that not only are our authorities falling short on nearly all of these basic necessities, but people have also died while in custody — and for no good reason.
The Trump Administration is actively trying to change the law so it can be said that the law was followed (retrospectively). Trump wants to hold these migrants “indefinitely,” i.e. as long as he wants. Trump wants to force migrants from non-border countries to apply for asylum in other countries along the way to stop them from getting to the United States.
According to Attorney General Xavier Becerra, “No child deserves to be left in conditions inappropriate and harmful for their age. The actions by this administration are not just morally reprehensible, they’re illegal. Children don’t become subhuman just because they’re migrants.”
Misdiagnosis is something that is a source of fear for most health-care professionals. No doctor wants to make a mistake, and misdiagnosis of certain medical conditions can be catastrophic for the patient, and lead to medical malpractice issues for the doctor.
According to new research, misdiagnosis related harm is most commonly associated with three specific areas: vascular events, cancer, and infections.
David E. Newman-Toker MD, Ph.D., who serves as a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, was one of the leads of the study, which was published in the Diagnosis journal.
According to the study, diagnostic errors in the ‘big three’ of cancers, vascular events, and infections account for around 75% of the serious harms that come from diagnostic errors. There are other medical errors which can cause serious harm, however, diagnostic errors account for just over one-third of all ‘serious harm’. Of the diagnostic errors which cause serious harm, 64% lead to either permanent disability or death. Diagnostic errors account for 28% of total payouts relating to medical malpractice claims, with the median payout being $766,000 for a claim relating to a highly severe case.
Not all diagnostic errors which lead to serious harm result in a malpractice claim. In fact, it is thought that malpractice claims account for just 1.5 percent of all medically negligent events, but overall the cost to society resulting from harmful diagnostic errors is in excess of $100 billion per year, according to a group of attorneys who help settle claims for victims.
Now that the researchers have some clear data on the long term impact of seriously harmful diagnostic errors, their next goal is to find ways to fix the problem. Newman-Toker believes that he has some ideas that can help to improve patient safety and diagnosis and advises doctors to stay focused on what the patient is saying in a diagnostic setting. The information provided by the patient is key to diagnostics, and it is important that doctors feel confident in their ability to do the best they can for their patients in a time-pressured setting.
The Council of Medical Specialty Societies noted that it is important to acknowledge that the issue is very complex and to avoid blaming clinicians for any errors. This is a complex process, and physicians need to be equipped with the resources that will allow them to make clear and correct diagnoses on a consistent basis. Helen Burstin, the societies executive VP, advised physicians to call specialists when they are unsure, to provide the best possible care for their patients.
Many of us have had friends or loved ones diagnosed with breast cancer, and while treatment options have greatly expanded over time — the prognosis isn’t always good. Around 40,000 women die every year from the disease, and tens of thousands of more are bogged down by the emotional and financial tolls of ongoing treatment. These stressful circumstances can be further compounded by the possibility of medical malpractice. Do you know how to look for the signs?
Breast cancer diagnosis starts with self-awareness. Women are urged to perform self-examinations to increase their chances of discovering lumps early. Not all doctors follow through when a patient finds something concerning, which is the first indication a doctor isn’t taking his or her job seriously. It never hurts to get a second opinion.
Once a woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the next step a doctor should take is taking a thorough family history. They do this because breast cancer is hereditary, and certain genes a woman may or may not have can affect how the immune system reacts to the disease. It’s the doctor’s responsibility to perform an accurate family history and act accordingly. Failing in this step can lead to a “cascade failure” of sorts, meaning lots of other things can go wrong one after another.
Depending on the results of the family history, a doctor might order an array of lab tests to discover whether or not you have various genes. This is another point at which medical malpractice situations often arise. There are many people involved in this process. Not only will your doctor have to effectively communicate with lab technicians, but once a treatment regimen is decided upon, he or she will also have to speak with radiologists, nurses, etc. Failing to convey accurate information can lead to delayed treatment.
When lab technicians or doctors fail to read the aforementioned lab tests, there is a strong possibility of delayed treatment, misdiagnosis, or improperly prescribed medications. Any of these three situations can result in out-of-control cancer growth and threaten a person’s chances of survival.
Misdiagnosis is one of the most common forms of medical malpractice across the board. Of course diagnosing anyone isn’t necessarily easy because various illnesses and diseases share many symptoms — but if a doctor is truly negligent or makes a big mistake, then litigation is feasible. Improperly prescribed medications can lead to an array of dangerous side effects or even help the cancer to thrive in a person’s body. Any of these possibilities should be taken very seriously.
Each year around 1.25 million fatalities are reported from automobile accidents all over the world. About 37,000 of those fatalities occur in the United States. It’s a staggering statistic. Another 2.35 people are injured in car accidents in the United States. Have you been in one yourself? It’s a scary thought, but you chances are you know someone who has been in a serious auto accident, and you should know what to do if you’re in one yourself.
- Call 911. If anyone was injured in the car accident, then you need to immediately alert to appropriate authorities. Even if everyone seems to be okay, call the police. Some people report injuries a few days after the fact, and it can be difficult to prove or dispute these claims when insurance adjusters and lawyers are subsequently notified.
This is important: never admit fault for an accident, even if you think you’re accountable.
- Photograph the Scene. Be sure to take pictures of any damage done to any vehicles involved in the crash. If you were hurt, photograph your own injuries. Be wary of photographing other people or victims, even if you have permission.
- Obtain Documentation. Stress can make us forgetful, but be sure to obtain all the relevant information from other drivers involved in the accident: insurance, make and model of all vehicles, vehicle identification numbers (VIN), license plate numbers, names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc. In addition, try to get contact information from pedestrians or other drivers who witnessed the accident. Your legal representation may find this information useful.
- Obtain Treatment. See a doctor as soon as possible after an accident, and be sure to mention any pain you might be feeling. If your symptoms change in one or two days, then it may be beneficial to make a repeat visit. Meticulously document your injuries by keeping medical records, photographs, and bills in a folder. It may be helpful to keep a journal detailing your thoughts, feelings, and pain management during your recovery.
- Contact Insurance Providers. Be as honest as you can with insurance adjusters, but do not admit fault. Many insurance adjusters will urge you to call from the scene of the accident if possible, or even to let police provide details of the accident directly after it happens, but avoid making this mistake. You can’t provide them with information you don’t have. If you feel uncomfortable speaking with insurance providers about the accident, then wait until after you obtain counsel.
- Find Legal Representation. A qualified and experienced lawyer can help reduce stress after a bad accident by guiding you through all the nuances of the applicable laws. If you are entitled to compensation from your insurance adjuster or from someone who may have been at fault in a car accident, then your legal representation will help you obtain it. If someone is blaming your for causing a car accident, then you need a proper defense.
In New York, if you own a vehicle, you are required by law to have a minimum level of car insurance. You are required to have:
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury per person (when you cause a car accident)
- $50,000 total liability bodily injury coverage per accident you cause (regardless of how many people are injured)
- $10,000 liability coverage for property damage (per accident you cause)
- $50,000 in no-fault (personal injury protection) coverage, and
- ninsured motorist coverage (for bodily injury sustained by you) subject to these same minimums.
So What Does This Mean?
Because New York is a “no-fault” state, when you are injured in a car accident, based on the minimum levels of car insurance that you are required to have, your own personal car insurance pays for your medical treatment and other out of pocket expenses for any injuries sustained in the accident regardless of who caused the accident.
However, if you are injured in a car accident that was due to someone else’s recklessness, with a no-fault claim, you cannot collect compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. If you wish to sue for non-economic damages, you must file a third-party insurance claim against the at-fault driver. But in New York, in order for you to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, you must have suffered what New York State refers to a serious injury. A serious injury includes:
- Broken Bones
- Loss of use of body organs
- Disability for 90 days
But What About My Car?
New York’s no-fault insurance only applies to injuries and not property damage. If your car was damaged in the accident, you can bring about a property damage claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you were at fault for the accident, then the liability coverage in your insurance policy that is mandated by the state will determine how much is covered.
Negligence is a term used often in personal injury cases. In order for a plaintiff to seek compensation from an injury due to an accident (whether it be car accident, slip and fall, dog bite, etc), they must prove that the actions of the defendant were negligent.
In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff has to show that the defendant did the following four things:
- The defendant has a standard duty of care to uphold
- The defendant did not uphold the standard duty of care
- Because they did not uphold this standard duty of care, injuries were sustained
- These injuries led to measurable damages
An example of this is a medical malpractice case. It is common knowledge that doctors are responsible for providing adequate and accurate health care. If the doctor misreads a test result and does not provide the proper health care treatment, then he breached his duty of care. Because the doctor misread the test result, the patient suffered long-term injury and disability and therefore can no longer work. The patient has suffered lost wages and future earning potential due to the doctor’s misread test result.
Different Types of Negligence
There are several different types of negligence that can be proven regarding a personal injury case:
- Gross Negligence – More than a careless action, gross negligence is when someone displays a complete lack of concern for safety or standard of care. An example of this is when a nurse fails to change the bandages of a patient resulting in an infection.
- Comparative Negligence – This is when the plaintiff might be partially responsible for their injuries. This is common in car accident cases. A good example is a driver was moving through a green light but was struck by a vehicle running a red light. However, the driver wasn’t wearing his seat belt. He might be found partially liable for his injuries.
- Reckless Conduct – This is a slightly different form of negligence because in this scenario the person breaching the duty of care did so with intent. They knew that they were breaching the duty of care and continued to do so. A common example of this is an accident caused by a driver speeding.
- Strict Liability – In some cases, the person held liable is legally required to pay damages for an injury even if they weren’t negligent. For example, a dog owner might be required to pay for injuries sustained to a dog bite victim even if they were not acting in a negligent way when the accident occured.
Types of Damages Awarded From Negligence
Once negligence is proven, there are two different types of damages that can be collected is your personal injury case is successful:
- Economic damages – monetary compensations for measurable things such as lost income, future earning loss, medical bills, future medical bills, etc.
- Noneconomic damages – monetary compensation for things that are not measurable such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and mental anguish.
Contact Our New York Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence, the best course of action is to contact our New York personal injury attorney. Together, you will discuss the particulars of your case and work towards receiving the compensation you deserve for your injury.