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LNCtips.com: The United Defense

There's a common misconception among nurses.  Nurses often feel that if a plaintiff names them in the same lawsuit as doctors and their hospital, they'll be "thrown under the bus."  In reality, it's rare for one defendant to point a finger at other defendants.  There's a reason for that.

That reason is called "strategy."  When defendants band together in a united defense, they decrease the risk for a potential verdict for the plaintiff.  For example, it's common for plaintiffs to name a hospital, several doctors, and several hospital staff members as defendants in the same lawsuit. 

Defense attorneys don't point fingers at other defendants because it gives the plaintiff an advantage.  It's like admitting that one or more of the defendants gave substandard care while the other defendants looked the other way.  In fact, there may have been factors that led to a bad result for the patient that had nothing to do with any of the defendants.

The united defense strategy works well in many cases.  At trial, jury members may find it hard to believe that every single defendant was negligent and caused harm to the plaintiff.  Instead, juries often totally reject the plaintiff's argument and find for all the defendants.  In fact, about 80% of jury verdicts in medical malpractice cases favor the defendants.  Of course, most medical malpractice cases never go to trial.  Most cases end in other ways

Plaintiff attorneys often attack the united defense strategy as a conspiracy of silence.  However, plaintiff attorneys use strategies too.  Attorneys for both plaintiff and defense use proven tactics to try to win medical malpractice cases for their clients.

So the next time you work with nurses who are parties in a lawsuit, tell them not to worry about another defendant throwing them under the bus.  It's more likely that all the defendants will stick together in a united defense.

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...Katy Jones