Cooper Law Firm
Quality, Affordable Legal Guidance
Se habla Español

Move to streamline medical malpractice suits gains traction

It seems everyone has an opinion about what contributes to rising medical costs in the United States. Fingers get pointed at technology as one major driver. Doctors get targeted for ordering unnecessary tests and treatments and overprescribing. Big pharma gets tagged for overpricing products. Insurance companies are dismissed as meddlers that deliver little for the money they make.

The legal profession doesn't escape. Attorneys in Maryland and elsewhere know well the argument that is proffered about exorbitant damage claims from malpractice lawsuits and the supposed effect they have on healthcare costs. Reaction has ranged from capping damage awards to encouraging medical practitioners to be more up front when mistakes have been made and to offer compensation. No one seems too happy with those solutions.

There is another effort under way to address the lawsuit issue, and it's winning some praise. It's a new program initiated by a judge in New York City and which is beginning to spread on a test basis to other parts of the empire state. Observers say it could turn into a national model.

It works this way. When a malpractice suit is filed, it gets handed to a judge who then supervises the matter from start to finish. The jurist has the power to call all parties together to keep negotiations going and offer help in brokering terms.

As common sense as it sounds, this isn't how things usually happen now. Rather, the process can involve years of activity before it gets to trial. Any number of judges might be involved at any point. No one steers the process.

That changes with the new model. And the judge who came up with it says it seems to be attractive. He says when people are offered a process that might speed things up and still end with "significant sums of money," he's found they're often ready to talk. It doesn't work in every instance, but when indications are that a case can be settled promptly, the so-called judge-directed negotiation process may work.

The New York State Trial Lawyers Association seems to be on board with the idea. The group's president says that while the awards could be slightly less than what might be achieved under the years-long process, the speed of resolution and sense of closure is proving worth it for many plaintiffs.

It will be interesting to see how this idea develops.

Source: The Washington Post, "Judge devises model for resolving medical malpractice cases more quickly," Michelle Andrews, Nov. 21, 2011

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Contact Cooper Law Firm Today A Diverse Professional Legal Team, Always Accessible to You. Call 866-405-0124.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Email Us For A Response
  • Maryland Association for Justice
  • Bar Association of Montgomery County, MD
  • PGCBA | Prince George's County Bar Association | Over a century of service
  • MSBA | Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.

office location

Cooper Law Firm
8720 Georgia Avenue, Suite 701
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Toll Free: 866-405-0124
Phone: 301-587-9170
Fax: 301-589-1585
Silver Spring Law Office Map