Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement
You have a strong case when you can show that it caused you serious emotional suffering and has disrupted your career, marriage, social life, or love life. When a badly disfigured person goes i
nto court, everyone’s heart goes out to that person. The jurors want to give something to compensate for the happiness which has been destroyed and can never be regained.
Furthermore, most people just assume that a doctor is not going to do anything to harm his patients. When a doctor does something that harms a patient’s internal organs, like the liver or the lungs, jurors cannot see the injury and can only form an opinion by listening to the medical expert’s testimony and imagining what it must be like. But, when a doctor scars or disfigures his patient, the results are right out in the open for everyone to see, and they have a much greater emotional impact on jurors. It does not take any imagination for a juror to identify with a maimed or disfigured person. When such a person sits in full view of the jurors, their hearts go out to her or him, and they cannot help but to imagine what that person’s life must be like.
Injuries to the Heart
The heart has a special significance for everyone. It reflects our every emotion and its steady beat is the sure sign of life. Heart disease is a number one killer and almost every family has a member who has died of it or had heart surgery. Everybody knows how serious it is and how it cripples its victims. Most people have seen cardiac patients who can barely walk, wheezing, and puffing. Anything that damages the heart is like condemning someone to death, and jurors tend to feel the same way.
The Doctor Ignores Drug Warnings
As drugs become more complex and dangerous, manufacturers put out detailed information on their use, dosage, and contraindications. These are known as package inserts and are enclosed with each bottle of medicine. They tell the doctor, in great detail, just how to use the drug, when not to use it, and what to watch out for. This same information is also distributed to doctors in a book called the PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference) and is available, or on-line, at every nursing station in every hospital.
The Rule Is: There is no excuse for a doctor giving you the wrong drug or the wrong dosage of the right drug. You can sue the doctor if he does not follow the manufacturer’s instructions and you are harmed.
The pharmacist may also be liable if you are injured by an overdose or the wrong medicine. Every pharmacy is required to maintain a record of medications sold to each customer, and the pharmacist is supposed to check it each time he or she fills a prescription, just as a safety check to be sure the doctor has not made a mistake. The pharmacist knows the correct dosage for drugs and should be aware of any special problems his customer may have. If a prescription looks wrong, the pharmacist has a duty to contact the doctor and verify it. If he does not, and gives you the wrong drug or the wrong dosage, the pharmacist is as liable as the doctor.
There is one important exception to this rule. If you have a bad reaction because you have a sensitivity or are allergic to a drug or treatment, it is not the doctor’s fault, unless he knew about your allergy before prescribing the drug or treatment. The first allergic reaction is the patient’s fault. All others are the doctor’s fault, provided he knew about the first reaction.