What Is It Like To get Sued?

I think it is normal for professionals in any field to become accustomed to the processes and procedures we deal with every day. I think that phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the legal field. Most people have extremely limited experience with the workings of the court system in general, and with civil litigation in particular. The average citizen’s legal experience is most likely limited to serving jury duty, or appearing as a defendant in traffic court.

For example, I have often had clients seem surprised that I am usually quite friendly with the attorney representing the defendant in their personal injury case. To me, most of these lawyers are colleagues, law school classmates, or simply fellow professionals that I have gotten to know across the aisle at trials. They seem to believe that adversarial equates to hostile. This issue often arises in clients’ frustration with the pace (extremely slow) of litigation. People also seem to believe that the insurance company or defense attorney has a particular axe to grind against them, where I see that as business as usual.

This is an overly long intro to a blog that I have found to be great reading. There is an emergency department doctor who was sued for medical malpractice and is blogging about the course of his own trial (after the fact).

I think this is fascinating for several reasons. First, doctors are intelligent people who are mostly laypersons when it comes to the law. I think that provides a great outsider’s view of the system. Second, is the degree to which getting sued is taken personally, even by someone in a profession where being sued is commonplace. For example, this particular doctor is adamant he did nothing wrong, even though the first expert hand picked by his insurance carrier and defense attorney was of the opinion that the blogger was negligent. Did this prompt an apology and prompt payment to the victim? No. It prompted the insurer and defense attorney finding a new expert.

Maybe the first expert was wrong. But this at least raises the idea that reasonable people can disagree, and this does great harm to the idea that all lawsuits are frivolous. Third, I think reading the comments to the entries is very educational. There are always people, who despite their alarming lack of knowledge, hold very strong opinions.

For example, a bad medical outcome does not always mean there was malpractice, but a losing plaintiff should be liable for the defendant’s fees and costs? Take a look and let me know what you think.

For what it’s worth, I think the writer sounds like a pretty reasonable guy who raises some good points. I even agree with some of what he says, and I’m an admittedly biased personal injury lawyer.