With over 20 years of experience in this field of law, Jeff S. Mitchell has become a leading figure in medical malpractice litigation. As he explains in a piece published in the November 2019 issue of Plaintiff, Mitchell has seen this field go through substantial changes. His analysis offers an interesting look into the world of medical malpractice law. Here are a few of the issues Mitchell covered in his interview.
Defendants in medical malpractice cases tend to stall. This tendency conflicts with the plaintiff lawyer’s need to resolve issues quickly. This can cause tension when dealing with a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, this issue is not the only factor holding up cases.
Case filings are declining. With smaller caseloads, some defense attorneys draw out cases to get as many billable hours as possible. Due to the expense of a prolonged court case, plaintiff’s attorneys and some carriers try to mitigate these delay tactics.
Liability and Interactions Between Defendants
In the early years of his career, Mitchell learned that defendants should never point fingers at other defendants. Nowadays, multi-defendant cases inevitably yield infighting. This is linked to another trend, the denial of the existence of joint and several liability.
These defendants often try to push blame onto another defendant. For example, if a hospital believes that a doctor is liable for an injury, it may be unwilling to pay its portion to settle a case. The law of joint and several liability directly contradicts this belief.
On that same note, there is a growing trend of defendants not wanting to pay more than others in a multi-defendant case. Several factors have contributed to this change. The history between insurance carriers, the relationship between lawyers and egos have all played a role in this trend.
Fewer Cases and Stiffer Competition
There are fewer medical malpractice cases now than in the past, but there are more firms competing for them. Large, established firms have broken up, dividing into smaller, more specialized firms. This has increased the competition for the few remaining medical malpractice cases.
Inexperienced Younger Lawyers and Leadership Changes
There is a shift in leadership in defense firms. Many of the lawyers who built their careers on defending medical establishments and providers have retired. Younger, more inexperienced defense lawyers have stepped up to fill the gap. While plaintiff lawyers can use this inexperience to their benefit, they have also lost the relationships built with established defense lawyers. This can make it more difficult to bring cases to a mutually beneficial, timely resolution. Additionally, more inexperienced defense lawyers may not know when to settle a case out of court, forcing more cases onto the court docket.
This trend extends to all of personal injury law, not just medical malpractice litigation. Filing fees, court reporters and trial technology are all more expensive. This drives the cost of litigating a single case up. Furthermore, medical malpractice is a specialty that demands the use of expert witnesses. The cost of hiring these witnesses has increased over the years. In complex cases, law firms must hire multiple experts from different areas of medicine, also increasing costs.
Contact Our Team of San Francisco Medical Malpractice Lawyers
When it comes time to choose a lawyer for your medical malpractice case, are you focusing on what is important? Choose a San Francisco medical malpractice attorney with the experience and knowledge needed to hold negligent medical providers and facilities accountable. With offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley, Mitchell Leeds, LLP is ready to bring their experience to your case. Schedule your free consultation by calling 415-769-3400.