I was made an offer I probably should not have refused. While working in the Medical Malpractice claim department, my boss asked me to be a claim examiner trainee. I had all that it takes, he said. Mainly my ability to get doctors at ease in their interviews was crucial in getting the information needed to process a claim. I declined. Aware of the high demand of a medical malpractice examiner and the high salary that eventually I would make, I declined.
It was a good job. Rewarding worthy cases defending hard working providers who, for the most part, were unjustly sued by patients or their families. But there were those others, a minority of them, whose case I found difficult to defend if assigned to me.
I had read many of the files. I knew enough to dismiss the bullshit cases and understand the real ones. I felt I did not have what it took to defend a case I didn’t believe in and that, mainly is what I would be doing.
The Claim Examiners tried to talk me out of my decision. I would defend my client – the doctor – and winning a case would only mean the other part didn’t prove theirs. Fair, they said.
Not to me.How could I award the children of a dead young mother grossly misdiagnosed by her cardiologist a minimum settlement because she was just a waitress and her projected income was not high? Could I walk out of court and celebrate with my counterparts that the prosecutors didn’t prove how grossly inadequate the care rendered by my insured was?
Celebrate that those kids lost their mother who could have been saved had the cardiologist done what he was supposed to do.
It is a job and you do it. Eventually you’ll see the side of your client, I was assured.
The thought came to me when I saw Jose Baez smiling as his client walked out of jail acquitted for the death of her 2 year old daughter. A case that has impacted me as much as Susan Smith did 20 years ago. Does he believe in the innocence of his client or is it a job and its rightfulness doesn’t matter? Or better yet, do people convince themselves that their wrong is right? Does a person who causes harm sleep peacefully at night convinced that what they did was the right thing to do?
I couldn’t do it then, I can’t do it now.