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How medical malpractice affects family finances

Author: Karla M. Somers
Published: Oct 11 2012

In today's society, many families struggle to get by from day to day. When the primary earner in the household becomes injured or incapacitated, a family can end up in serious financial trouble. In addition to having to pay unexpected medical costs, the family must now shoulder the financial burdens originally held by the primary breadwinner of the household.

Medical Bills and Other Damages

Medical malpractice includes a wide range of errors with numerous effects. In most cases, medical malpractice is a two-pronged problem. First, the family will usually be billed for the incompetent treatment. Second, the family will have to pay other medical professionals to undo the errors made by the first physician.

Individuals need not pay for services that they did not receive. In some cases, a dispute over medical malpractice can be a gray area, such as with a procedure that was partially successful but aggravated another injury. In the event that any medical professional renders services, the injured parties or their insurance companies can expect bills. Going back and forth with the hospitals, the doctors, and the insurance company to dispute these bills can be a challenging experience, and many individuals will end up paying at least part of the bill. This can greatly reduce a family's available capital.

To make matters worse, the injured person must then see a second set of professionals to repair the damage caused by the first doctor. In the case of botched surgery or an unnecessary procedure, this process can involve additional surgeries and a wide range of tests. Individuals who are uninsured or poorly insured will be expected to pay for these bills out of their own pockets. The injured party must pay for these bills first, and then sue the originally negligent party for damages after. This can cause a significant burden on the family while the case is pending resolution.

Our medical malpractice lawyer in Syracuse, New York advises that some of the other losses and damages for which you may be entitled to financial compensation include: pain and suffering, lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost employment benefits, and rehabilitation expenses. Every case is different, depending on the circumstances, and an attorney who is experienced in these types of cases will be able to help you determine your best course of action.

Inability to Work

Medical malpractice can cause an individual to lose the ability to perform his or her usual job. Numerous problems can result if the primary household earner is unable to work, including putting a major strain on household finances.

Regardless of the fact that a person is injured, bills and expenses will continue to arrive as usual. Nearly half of Americans cannot produce $2,000 immediately. Considering the amount of families that are living paycheck to paycheck, a loss of employment can cause immediate problems for the entire household. Unpaid bills can result in utilities being shut off, credit scores being ruined, and calls from collection agencies demanding payment. To pay for essentials like food and school supplies for children, other members of the family will often have to seek additional employment to support the family during this time of need. Perhaps Mom will have to get a second job, or teenagers will have to seek part-time work, causing them to have less time for their studies.

There is also a social stigma against individuals who are out of work for more than a brief period. Upstanding citizens are expected to work hard and support themselves and their families; individuals who are unable to do so are scrutinized by their fellow man. In the case of a readily apparent injury, such as paralysis, this will be less of an issue. Disability that is less apparent is often viewed suspiciously by society because many individuals abuse the disability system and falsely claim to be disabled.

Medical malpractice can harm a family's financial position. Not only must individuals pay the bills associated with the injuries, but also families may drain their life savings in order to pay for essentials. If the family has no savings, the situation can be dire. If you suspect you are a victim of medical malpractice, contact an attorney immediately to discuss your options. The cost of waiting can be too great to shoulder for many families.

Karla M. Somers is a writer and former family mediator for New York State. She contributes articles for Bottar Leone, a medical malpractice lawyer in Syracuse, NY. Since 1983, the experienced attorneys at Bottar Leone have been helping families overcome the hardships associated with medical malpractice.

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