While political pundits have been discussing medical malpractice reform for years, several courts in New York City are actually instituting real reform. In 2002, Justice Douglas McKeon began a pioneering new approach to handling medical malpractice cases filed in the Bronx. Judge McKeon's approach has been so successful that New York State has announced that it will expand the concept of a specialized medical malpractice court to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Erie County.
Historically, medical malpractice cases are time consuming, costly, and difficult to resolve. The New York program, funded in part by a $3 million grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, aims to streamline the process of resolving these complicated cases. Judge McKeon's approach, called judge-directed negotiation, is effective due in part to its simplicity: Once a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, it is assigned to a judge with expertise in medical-legal issues. This judge will then stay with the case throughout the litigation process, bringing the parties together as needed in order to effectuate a settlement that is acceptable to all involved. According to Judge McKeon: "if you created a process that people knew had the potential to get a case settled sooner rather than later for significant sums of money, they came in and they were ready to talk."
In contrast, a malpractice suit in New York outside of this judge-directed model may be handled by a number of different judges before being resolved. Without a judge with specialized knowledge focusing the parties' attention on the important issues in the case - acting, in a sense, as a mediator - serious settlement discussions don't occur until very late in the game, often years after the lawsuit was filed. According to the Washington Post, under Judge McKeon's method a typical medical malpractice case settles sometime between 6 and 9 months. For traditional malpractice suits, a case will often take up to three years to resolve.
It is important to note that while the goal of judge-directed negotiation is speedy resolution of a claim, an aggrieved party always has the right to refuse any settlement offer and proceed to trial. Often a defendant will refuse to negotiate or make an unreasonably low settlement offer that is not serious. It is in moments like this that the well-prepared malpractice attorney can use his experience and knowledge of the relevant law to zealously represent the interests of an injured client.
If you have been injured by medical malpractice in New York, you need an experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer to help you preserve your rights and fight for the financial compensation you are entitled to under New York law. The experienced attorneys at Rudner & Paleudis, LLC will fight to protect your rights. If you or a loved one have been the victim of medical malpractice, call the attorneys at Rudner & Paleudis, LLC immediately at (212) 899-5201 or (914) 682-2178.