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What happens if I lose my medical malpractice lawsuit?

Not every medical malpractice lawsuit will lead to an immediate favorable outcome for the plaintiff. Given the complexity of both the underlying medical practices that allegedly led to the plaintiff's harm and the Louisiana law that governs medical malpractice actions, it is possible that the trial court can make a mistake in favor of the defendant physician. Such an initial decision, though, is not necessarily fatal to the plaintiff's chances for recovery.

Consider a situation in which the plaintiff suffers a knee injury which subsequently becomes infected. His doctor attempts to treat the infection, but it grows worse; eventually the doctor resorts to replacing the knee joint with a prosthetic, but fails to eliminate the infection before doing so. This results to complications requiring more surgeries, during which time it becomes apparent that the infection is caused by the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, which is very hard to treat even in a hospital setting. Ultimately the infection is cured, but not before the patient suffers permanent joint damage that interferes with his ability to work.

In a real-life lawsuit consisting of the facts above, when the patient sued the treating physician for medical malpractice, the defendant doctor initially prevailed. It became necessary to appeal that decision.

In Louisiana, the appeal of a trial court decision challenging its factual findings, the plaintiff must show that the court committed a "manifest error" in drawing its conclusions. This can lead to lengthy and complex arguments over how the state medical malpractice statute and its interpretations by other Louisiana appeals cases apply to the case at hand, which will almost always require that the plaintiff's attorney be experienced with Louisiana medical malpractice law.

In the case above the plaintiff prevailed upon appeal. While this is not always the case in every appeal of an adverse trial court decision, it should offer hope that -- if you should not win your medical malpractice claim at trial -- it can still be possible, with effective counsel, to ultimately secure the compensation you need in light of the harm that you have suffered.

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