14 Jul Living with the emotional fall out of personal injury
Written By: Brenda Agnew, Client Liaison
People who have suffered a personal injury due to the carelessness or actions of others not only suffer from physical injuries but also emotional wounds and feelings of injustice, which often remain long after some of the visible scars have healed. The absence of an acknowledgment of wrongdoing can stay with a victim for decades.
Legal action may result in payments for their pain and suffering, or future care cost, and lost wages, but the one thing they rarely receive is an admission of wrongdoing or a tangible consequence for the offending party.
At Gluckstein Lawyers, we work tirelessly to help ensure that our clients receive fair and substantial compensation for all types of personal injuries, including birth injuries, which are some of the most challenging cases and emotional cases to argue. Led by a senior birth injury lawyer, Richard Halpern, our team has won sizable settlements for families who rely on this funding to help rebuild their lives and make the future feel a bit brighter.
Little chance of hearing a ‘sorry’
In my capacity as client liaison with Gluckstein Lawyers, I meet with these parents and listen to their stories. I can hear the pain in their voices as they wonder why the hospital or doctor involved did not reach out to them personally to apologize or why no one has admitted their wrongdoing aside from an insurance settlement.
Sadly, I have to tell them that there is little chance the contrition they seek will be shown.
This is because physicians and medical institutions are heavily protected against medical negligence claims. If a physician makes a mistake, their insurance company takes over to determine compensation, with the MD rarely called before a tribunal or suffering any discipline.
For the pregnant woman who enters the hospital expecting a normal birth and a healthy baby she faces a different scenario if a mistake occurs. When a medical error is made during delivery, her newborn baby pays the price and is often left with permanent and debilitating injuries. The families have to bear the costs. Financial settlements allow families to afford the treatments and special equipment they will need to take care of their children’s needs.
I know our clients are incredibly appreciative of these settlements, but many still hold out hope for an apology.
I know your pain
I speak from firsthand knowledge. When my son Maclain was born, he suffered a brain injury from untreated jaundice. Gluckstein was able to secure my family a comfortable settlement, but that did not erase what happened. Maclain has to deal with the consequences of the inadequate medical care he received every day in the future. So does my family. No matter the size, any settlement will not magically erase the pain and suffering that a medical error can cause.
The hospital has never apologized to us. To his credit, the lawyer for the hospital did say in pretrial that he was sincerely sorry for what happened, but he spoke for himself, not the institution at fault.
Families who receive settlements are always grateful to win judicial justice. But for many, their faith in public health care is shaken. They may now irrevocably distrust the medical system that most in this country are so proud of. Some mothers even vow they will never try to have another baby again since they feel the risk of similar problems is too high.
Mental health issues
Many people who have been directly or indirectly affected by personal injury develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. They are uncertain about the future as they try to cope with a situation that is out of their control. An apology would be a valuable part of the closure they seek.
I tell them that is not the way the medical system works. I urge them instead to find solace in knowing that at the end of the day, the most important thing is that they have a financial settlement that provides protection and hope for the future. That can’t erase what happened. They can only trust that the settlement will make the future more comfortable.
Sometimes our legal challenges, especially in a class action, can bring about changes to laws, guidelines and policies. That is a form of justice.
In my case, though, the hospital did not offer an apology after the case was settled. Instead, they made changes to its protocols and guidelines. That gives my family and me some comfort, knowing there is less chance of someone else going through what we did when Maclain was born.
I’m proud of the work Gluckstein Lawyers do on behalf of those who have suffered a personal injury. While we cannot win the apology that many are looking for, our team works hard to obtain the best outcome possible for our clients. Our efforts to win our clients the justice they deserve are the only thing we can truly control.