Advice on How to Handle Kaiser Malpractice Lawsuits

Recognizing misconceptions

What are the greatest obstacles to an injured victim who is in a Kaiser med mal situation? That's the question we asked J. Niley Dorit, a California medical malpractice attorney, who has been representing patients injured by Kaiser for many years. Here's what he told us:

I think there's a misconception that Kaiser arbitration presents a barrier to recovery. Patients ought to be aware that if they have a serious problem with Kaiser, they’re just as empowered to make a claim as somebody who does not have Kaiser and who can go through the court system.

A lot of people seem to be discouraged by the fact that they have to go through arbitration. However, that should not discourage them whatsoever. They have all of the full rights that anybody would have in making any legal claim, with the exception of not having a jury. Other than that, they have all of their full rights and benefits under the law and I would not be deterred. In fact, in some cases, I would be encouraged because the arbitration system is maybe more manageable than the court system.

Listen to your instincts

Sometimes medical malpractice is obvious; sometimes it isn't. It's the latter situation that often goes unattended – and can leave injured victims without the adequate compensation they deserve. We asked Dorit what advice he would give to someone who is on the fence about looking into the matter further. Here's what he told us:

I would advise them to contact an attorney if they have a suspicion or their instinct tells them that something might be wrong. My office, like many others, reviews these situations and talks to prospective clients on the telephone. We discuss their cases with them at no charge. Fees don't apply unless we accept the case. So, normally there would not be any expense to somebody who wants to contact a qualified lawyer to review a Kaiser Permanente medical and hospital malpractice case. I would advise them to listen to their instincts and at least satisfy their suspicions. There’s no harm or expense in just asking the question, 'Is this something that we should look into further by having an initial conversation with an attorney?'

Dorit added one caveat – the pool of arbitrators in Kaiser Permanente medical malpractice cases is fairly limited. In fact, he says that there are only about 150 to 200 in all of northern California and having an attorney who’s knowledgeable with the pool of arbitrators who can hear these cases is critical. He explained, “Anybody who is looking to hire somebody on a potential Kaiser case would be behooved to ask the prospective attorney how many Kaiser cases they've handled – and to keep looking until you find somebody who has handled a lot of them.”