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February 27, 2001 - The Price Of Practice

Doctors and insurers often blame people who file "frivolous" lawsuits as one reason why malpractice insurance rates for doctors keep increasing.

Steve Brown, director of the West Virginia office of Medical Assurance, the state's largest malpractice insurer, believes that just like the reason why people purchase lottery tickets, they see one person getting money from a lawsuit and think they could get the same.

"People see malpractice lawsuits as a quick fix, a fast buck," said a neurosurgeon, Dr. Fred Payne. "They see it as a good way to get out of the misery and poverty they're in."

However, many attorneys state that lawyers carefully analyze all cases and determine whether they have merit before filing a complaint. The costs of pursuing a personal injury case are high and attorneys get paid only if they win. Thus, according to some jurists a lawyer would have to be an idiot to take a case that has no merit.

Also, although some settlement agreements state that the doctor admits no liability, most medical malpractice insurers settle only when the plaintiff can show that the doctor was negligent. Frank O'Neil, vice president of marketing for Alabama-based Medical Assurance, said that they only settle cases when they believe there was negligence and will go to trial if they think the case is frivolous.

"Some people have a misconception that once there's settlement, it's like you've won the lottery and you use it to go to Disney World," said Ms. Williams, a mother of a five-year old son diagnosed with cerebral palsy. "No amount of money can take away the pain. How do you put a price tag on a child who will be disabled for the rest of his life? When you're told to put your trust in people in the medical system, they need to be held accountable when they cause an injury," she added.

In cerebral palsy cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, review the medical procedures in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate the birth record and injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of cerebral palsy, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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