How Will Medical Malpractice Cases Work in the Age of Coronavirus?
The quarantine is only a couple of weeks in, but already lawmakers are pushing to prevent average citizens from filing lawsuits against doctors while the quarantine is in place? The theory goes that the folks on the front lines should be insulated from lawsuits because their over-stressed, overworked, and are now unwilling conscripts in the largest pandemic the world has seen in over 100 years.
Will this impact medical malpractice cases? It surely will, but exactly how it will impact them is still a matter of mostly speculation.
The State of the Legislation
As of the writing of this blog post, three states have already passed legislation or signed executive orders offering broadscale immunity from malpractice lawsuits. Those states are New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. The federal government is likely to pass its own legislation limiting medical malpractice lawsuits in certain situations, but since no such legislation exists yet, it’s difficult to comment on. But every state would inherit the federal statutes once they are passed.
Nonetheless, hospitals are preparing for patients who believe they’ve been poorly treated to sue during this time. With some hospitals nearing their capacity and others running slightly over, the legislation will protect health care workers from malpractice claims given the unprecedented and unanticipated nature of the pandemic.
How Will Medical Malpractice Lawyers Respond?
The problem for medical malpractice lawyers is twofold. Firstly, health care workers are currently being regarded as heroes across the United States and the globe. This is especially true in cases involving COVID-19. Medical malpractice lawyers may shy away from cases involving COVID-19 because not only do they have to dance through the red tape of state immunity, but they are also unlikely to secure a very good settlement, sway a jury, or have a strong negotiating position.
As Usual, Inner-City Communities Hurt the Worst
The idea of a medical malpractice lawsuit ban is good in theory. But then you realize that the majority of hospitals that are being overrun are in large cities and you’ve probably heard the news that African-American and Latino communities have been particularly vulnerable to the virus. This makes sense because the majority of poorer blacks and Latinos live in urban areas whereas the majority of poor whites tend to live in rural ones.
Suffice it to say, the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits will target urban hospitals that cater to minority populations. This could very easily turn out being a blanket ban on lawsuits filed against hospitals that could not meet the demand for new patients because of the virus. In other words, the law doesn’t just ban medical malpractice lawsuits, but could prevent primarily blacks and Latinos from filing lawsuits against negligent providers.
Talk to a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, call the St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorneys at Masterson, Hoag & Smith today to schedule a free consultation.