Medical & Dental Malpractice – Should You Leave Out Defendants?

What if you like one of the doctors and do not want to sue him, or your relative works for the hospital where you were a patient and you do not want to cause trouble by suing the hospital?  Can you leave them out, even though they were partly responsible?  Can you pick out one doctor, whom you dislike, sue him, and leave everybody else alone?

What if a case is too close to home for comfort?  What if the doctor, who must be named in your lawsuit is the only pediatrician available to care for your children?  What if he is married to a relative?  What if you work for the hospital that committed the medical malpractice?  In that case, you have to meet with your lawyer, and possibly your family, and decide whether your lawsuit is worthwhile, and whether you want to go ahead.  If your case is not strong, or the amount of money you are apt to get is not large, and you see that it is going to stir up a lot of trouble in your family, you may be better advised not to start a lawsuit.  This is a decision that only you, your family, and your lawyer can make.

The Rule Is: The surest way to lose your lawsuit is to pick and choose defendants.

One successful malpractice defense tactic is to find a doctor who was partly responsible but has not been sued and cannot be sued, because the statute of limitations has run.  The defense lawyers blame everything on him.  That can get all the other doctors off the hook.  The doctor you leave out may even become a Voluntary Defendant, once he knows he cannot be sued.  The defense lawyers may persuade him to say: “It was all my fault, and I am sorry, but what can I do?”  If the jury believes him, it excuses the other doctors and destroys your case.  Even if he only creates doubt about the other doctors’ liability, the jury will probably not award you the full amount to which you are entitled.

The Rule Is: Once your lawyer serves the doctor or the hospital with notice that they are being sued, you cannot pull back; the damage is done.  Before you start a medical malpractice or dental malpractice lawsuit, you have to make a decision to press your claim against whomever your lawyer advises you to and stick with it.

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