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New Court Ruling May Change Outcome of Future Malpractice Lawsuits in Arkansas

Patients Suffering from Inadequate Care May Soon Have More Legal Options Available to Prove Malpractice

In a groundbreaking decision a Pulaski County circuit judge has ruled that a long-standing law that has protected doctors from giving damning testimony at their own malpractice trials in Arkansas is unconstitutional. The law currently gives doctors the right to refuse to answer questions about whether their standard of care and performance was adequate in cases where victims suffered serious—even life-threatening injuries. Indeed, plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits in Arkansas may even be barred from asking such questions of their formerly trusted caregivers.

The monumental moment came about when in 2017 Judge Wendell Griffen (the man who essentially stopped executions in Arkansas) ordered that a plastic surgeon would indeed have to answer questions concerning the quality of care he demonstrated in regards the Arkansas malpractice lawsuit he was facing.

An Outdated Law Denies Victims Justice

The current Arkansas Medical Malpractice Act makes it impossible for injured patients to question their doctors in court in regards to whether the care they dispensed was right, fitting, and adequate. Judge Wendell Griffen wrote that this statute effectively prevents the plaintiff [victim] from getting at “. . . the core of a medical malpractice claim.” Essentially tying the hands of a victim, Judge Griffen says, is simply unconstitutional.

The legal problem stems from the fact that malpractice lawsuits in Arkansas hang on determining whether a doctor met a certain standard of care. If patients are barred from even asking what the appropriate standard of care should have been, there’s no way to determine whether or not a doctor has breached that moral contract between patient and caregiver.

While the current law does allow for other expert witnesses to be called during malpractice lawsuits in Arkansas to determine whether a doctor did indeed deliver adequate care, denying the victim the right to even ask their own doctor to testify seems to tilt the scales of justice in favor of an impersonal healthcare system rather than in favor of innocent victims.

One Small Decision with Wide-Reaching Consequences

Currently, each judge hearing malpractice cases is allowed to rule as Judge Griffen did and order doctors to answer questions concerning the quality of care they delivered. However, few do. But, because the outspoken Judge Griffen made such a bold statement, it sets a powerful precedent that could eventually erode the power of the Arkansas Malpractice Act (or at least the portion dealing with whether or not patients should be allowed to question their own doctors).

Arkansas Medical Malpractice Lawyers Fighting for You

However, winning a malpractice lawsuit in Arkansas will never be as easy as asking a doctor if they knowingly, willingly, or intentionally delivered substandard care. Victims need to produce an overwhelming amount of proof to substantiate their claims of malpractice including:

  • Extensive medical records
  • Negligence
  • Expert testimony
  • Current nationwide care standards

And so much more.

That’s why it’s essential that every victim have an experienced Arkansas medical malpractice lawyer on their side. The attorneys at the Pfeifer Law Firm have helped victims just like you. Get the compensation you deserve from doctors who have failed to deliver safe and adequate care. If you need legal assistance for a medical malpractice case, contact the Pfeifer Law Firm online or call 501-374-4440 today for your free consultation.

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