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A.J.
A.J., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 4296
Experience:  Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA
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I have a question regarding a medical malpractice claim that was filed by St. Marys

Resolved Question:

I have a question regarding a medical malpractice claim that was filed by St. Mary's Hospital Risk Management Department with Medical Malpractice Insurance Company of the doctor that injured me.

To supply you with a short summary, I had elective surgery that went very wrong for colon re-sectioning. I woke up in the recovery room throwing up blood, later I found out that I lost 5 units of blood in my abdominal cavity. When I woke up after the emergency surgery (not the elective surgery) I was told by the doctor that they opened me up but never found where I was bleeding from, so they sewed me back up.

A short time later I found out that the original elective surgery had left me sterilized without the ability to ejaculate anymore (I have been sterilized without consent or without informed consent). I started to see doctors in Madison, WI but no one would help me. So my father being a surgeon himself reviewed my medical records and found a question mark on my pathology report.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
Hello, and thank you for contacting Just Answer. My name isXXXXX am a legal professional and I look forward to answering your question.

Before I do, however, I want to make sure that I understand your question better. I can certainly provide you with information on the standard for medical malpractice and can provide information on how to find an attorney in Wisconsin (some of which you may have already tried). Are you trying to decide whether or not you have a claim? Do you need resources for finding an attorney?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I would like to know if I have a claim due the fraudulent behavior of the doctor concealing evidence. I would like to find an attorney to represent me in court against the doctor and insurance claim agent even though my surgery was April 2009. Before I had the exploratory surgery which I paid for I was turned down by many law firms. Keep in mind two government agencies have been investigating my complaint for over a year now.

Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
I understand, and thank you for the extra information. And just to clarify, the surgery took place in Wisconsin? (I understand some of your reviewing physicians have been in Illinois, I just want to make sure I have the state in which the alleged malpractice occurred)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes the elective surgery was in Wisconsin. After I found out I had been disabled I sought help from local doctors who would not help me. My father is a surgeon in Illinois, so he helped me find doctors to find out what is wrong with me through re-diagnosis of the pathology and exploratory surgery.

Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
Understood, I just did not want to provide the wrong statutes of limitation, they are state specific.

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is either (a) three years from the date of injury or omission, or (b) one year from the date that the malpractice was reasonably discovered, whichever occurred later. If the surgery was in April of 2009, then unfortunately you are arguably past the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Even under (b) the discovery rule, it sounds as if it has been more than 1 year since you have discovered the truth and the extent of your disability (although if that is not true, and it has been less than 1 year, you may still have time to file suit against this physician/hospital).

Now, as for the issue of fraud, that statute of limitations in Wisconsin is longer, it is 6 years. However, it is also not going to be easy to demonstrate. Fraud, as a general matter, consists of a statement of fact that intentionally deceives another person and that person is injured in some way by the deception (for example not being able to pursue medical treatment). The elements of fraud are (1) a false statement of material fact, (2) knowledge by the person making the statement that the statement is not true (in other words, intention to make a false statement), (3) reliance by the victim that is reasonable and justifiable (generally not a problem when the defendant is in a position of power, such as a doctor), and (4) injury or harm resulting from the false statement.

That fourth element, injury stemming from the false statement is often the hardest to prove. In a situation such as the one you describe, the injury cannot stem from the medical malpractice, that is a separate issue. The injury or harm must stem from the fact that a physician intentionally falsified a medical record. Now, examples of harm could be that the wrong follow up treatment was followed and this caused harm. It is certainly not impossible to show such harm, just more difficult than from the actual malpractice itself. In any event, those are the basic elements of a claim for fraud. You would potentially have a claim if you can demonstrate each of these elements, particularly that harm occurred because of the fraud (as opposed to because of the medical malpractice).

As for finding an attorney, as you have experienced this is not always the easiest of tasks. Fair or not, most private practice attorneys are, ultimately, in business to make money, and if they do not think your claim has value to them, they are unlikely to take it. Unfortunately, no attorney is required to take a civil case. Now, having said that, there are resources that may help you find an attorney. The Wisconsin State Bar Association does have a referral service that you can use, which can be reached by phone at:

(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr/>
or online at:

http://www.wisbar.org/forPublic/INeedaLawyer/Pages/LRIS.aspx

This is a general referral service, and any attorney you are referred to is not obligated to take your case, but they will provide a consultation of at least half an hour for no more than $20. It may take a number of referrals to find an attorney that is willing to work on your case (and there are no guarantees that someone will take the case), but this is certainly a good starting point, as you should be able to continue to get multiple referrals as needed.

If you are low income, a good starting place for finding legal assistance is Legal Action of Wisconsin. They have offices throughout the state, and can be reached online at:

http://www.legalaction.org/content/index.cfm?cm_id=11

I can certainly understand your frustration and, based on the information provided can understand why you would want to pursue the physician further. If you had not already done so, I would have raised the possibility of filing a charge with the state licensing agency, but it sounds as if you have already done so.

I appreciate the opportunity to answer your question, and let me know if you have any follow up questions or need clarification of anything that I have said (never be afraid to ask for clarification!). Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer so that I can receive credit for my work.
A.J., Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 4296
Experience: Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA
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A.J.
A.J.
Personal Injury Lawyer
4296 Satisfied Customers
Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA