Law firm on negligence cases: Doctors don’t testify against colleagues
A disciplinary complaint against Freedom House Law Chambers (FHLC) filed by claimants who believed they had a chance of winning their medical negligence case against the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) has been dismissed. In response to a Sunday Guardian story entitled “Angry Dad: Law Firm Playing Politics”, FHLC described as “scurrilous, irresponsible and unprofessional” claims made about itshandling of a medical negligence case. In a statement yesterday, the law firm contended that such cases are “notoriously difficult” to win because “doctors do not testify against doctors.”
“In order to succeed victims/prospective claimants must obtain expert medical opinion from experienced medical doctors in the relevant area. “Unless such doctors conclude that the standard of patient care fell below the generally accepted level, and are willing to provide sworn evidence of this, there is little or no case,” the law firm said. According to the statement from FHLC, the “viability and feasibility of commencing a medical negligence case is dependent on the independent findings by a doctor that there was medical negligence” and an attorney’s advice on the viability of the claim is secondary.
The law firm said expert medical opinion must be obtained before a claim can be filed. FHLC has been assisted in medical negligence cases by a retired doctor whose evidence has been the basis of many successful cases. FHLC said: “It would be unethical and negligent for any attorney to file a claim for medical negligence without independent supporting expert medical evidence. “It would be irresponsible to file such a claim where the only medical expert who is willing to assist concludes that there is no evidence of medical negligence.
“The cases referred to in the article fell into this category and clients were (quite properly) advised that the medical opinion received by the firm concluded that there was no medical negligence. “In the circumstances, in the absence of further expert medical opinion to the contrary from someone who is prepared to testify on their behalf in court, it was concluded that there was no valid case for medical negligence.” The law firm said “dissatisfied, disgruntled clients” are free, to seek alternative legal representation, particularly as they did not charge any fees for the legal advice proffered. “FHLC has a proud and cherished reputation for assisting the poor and downtrodden. We intend to honour that tradition by continuing to be of service to persons from all walks of life,” the firm said.
Extracted From: Trinidad Guardian Newspaper
Published: Tuesday, June 28, 2011