When a person files a medical malpractice lawsuit they do so in the hopes of being compensated for their injury or the injury of the person on whose behalf they are filing the lawsuit. If the plaintiffs are successful they will receive some sort of compensation. However, if the lawsuit is not successful; the plaintiff in the case may be responsible for the other side’s legal bills.
One family in Colorado has been order to pay the hospital defendant in their medical malpractice lawsuit $340,000 for their legal fees after they lost a lengthy medical malpractice lawsuit. These attorney’s fees included expenses such as desserts, dinners, and room service charges for the defenses expert witnesses and the defendants.
The lawsuit started because during the birth of the plaintiff’s son, Noah, four years ago, he lost oxygen while in the womb. According to his parents, the Wardens, these complications during delivery resulted in permanent brain damage. Noah’s parents never received an explanation as to what happened. All they know is that he was not breathing and did not have a heart rate for 13 minutes. Now Noah will require constant medical care for his entire life.
The Wardens filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital in 2010. In the lawsuit it was alleged that the hospital staff did not act fast enough to the signs that showed that Noah was losing oxygen while still in the womb. The trial lasted for four-weeks, after which, the jury sided with the hospital.
The law firm that represented the hospital filed a “bill of cost” after the jury sided with them. They were seeking to recover their legal fees from Noah’s parents. The judge signed off on most of the costs, ordering that the Wardens were responsible for a total of $340,000. The Wardens now expect that they will file for bankruptcy.
This is what can happen if you are on the losing end of an expensive medical malpractice lawsuit. The prevailing party has a right under the law to recover their out-of-pocket costs from the losing party. Moreover, the Rules of Professional Responsiblity actually require your own attorney to recover the costs and disbursements of the action from you, unless it was poor-person matter (requires judicial designation of this label) or pro bono. But most attorneys, including myself, will ask for but not aggressively seek payment for these costs and disbursements; that is the going practice amongst good New York medical malpractice attorneys and other personal injury lawyers.
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