Parents of children who have been injured as a result of medical negligence are speaking out with claims that the process of litigation is advantageous for the doctors but that it is too difficult and burdensome for the families who must go through the process. Parents who are most negatively impacted by the current process are typically those with children who have suffered a catastrophic injury due to the medically negligent actions of doctors and other medical caregivers while receiving treatment or post treatment for injuries and illnesses, or through routine physical and medical evaluations.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine, a judge in the High Court, indicated that families who have come through her court do not feel that they are receiving fair treatment, and those families whose children have suffered brain damage as a result of medical negligence feel an even greater sense of grievance towards the litigation process and how they have been treated throughout the process. The judge indicated that major delays in litigation and the pushing through of case through the court systems is a major part of the dissatisfaction that families, especially parents, feel when they make a legal claim against a doctor or other medical caregiver for medical negligence. This, the judge indicated, makes individuals feel dissatisfied with the process from the beginning, and not much can be done to change their feelings without significant changes to the system. These changes may require disclosure rules and protocols that help to resolve cases earlier and also facilitate the ability of negligent medical providers to admit their liability earlier in the process when there is already an expectation that they will admit liability and settle the case.
Comments from Ms Justice Irvine came in response to recent litigation regarding permanent damage to a child that was caused by medical negligence during the delivery of the child at her birth. The case took more than three years to come to a close and the hospital refused to concede liability until that time. The judge, and others, have indicated that the lengthy amount of time required for some cases to be settled is regrettable because families need the monetary settlement that comes through litigation in order to pay the expenses related with medical care and lifetime care, especially in situations where the injuries are catastrophic, and cause lifelong suffering.
There is a current belief that liable parties are continuously denying liability, even when liability is obvious, as a strategic legal tactic. This tactic may be used for a wide variety of reasons, but the purpose is clear: to halt, lengthen, or completely stop the proceedings so that the families may become overwhelmed and give up on litigation all together. The process of litigation is exhausting for families who have children experiencing serious complications due to medical negligence and this alone can cause families to give up the fight if the litigation takes too long—many years in most cases—to come to a close.