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How My Brother’s Death Motivated Me To Start My Own Law Firm

The year was 2005, two months before Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on thousands of lives.

I am staring at my dead brother. He is housed in a clear, glass box, plugged into the wall, so his body would stay preserved long enough for us to say our goodbyes.

I was 24 years old and more than seven thousand miles away when I first heard the news. I was in my hometown New York, finishing up my post baccalaureate requirements for entering medical school.

I was preparing for my final exams when my parents, both doctors, called to tell me that my mother was flying to India earlier than planned, to see my brother.

See, my parents and I were planning on visiting him in ten days, once I had finished my exams. So this news caught me by surprise.

“Why are you leaving early? What is going on? Is he ok?”

“Yes, yes Ramesh, everything is fine. Harish is in the hospital, but your aunt is with him and he will be ok.”

I was the youngest and most emotional member of our family. They thought they were “protecting” me by sugar coating the situation.

I was nervous.

I hadn’t seen my brother in six months. He had departed New York City to start a business with a colleague and friend. He had big dreams of starting a day trading firm while training less fortunate Indian professionals how to do what he did.

And for once in his adult life, he was really jazzed about something. I was excited for him and for what might come.

But those dreams ended on June 10, 2005 when doctors and nurses failed him.

While in the hospital, after suffering a heart attack at age 33, he was left unrestrained, and with little sedation. An intubation tube sat lodged in his throat to help him breathe. Paradoxically, it became the reason for his untimely death.

Due to his lack of sedation and with his hands left unrestrained, he yanked the tube out of his throat. This caused a massive heart attack and his body to crash, leaving him in a comatose state from which he would never awake.

By God’s grace, my mother arrived before he finally passed away. She was with him when he entered the world and she would be with him when he departed. But I would never speak to him again.

His loss left me with lots of deep philosophical questions. Almost immediately I questioned if I could be a doctor anymore. I didn’t want to be in hospitals re-living these moments, day in and day out, yet I could be the doc who would save lives and prevent negligence like this from happening to others. Ultimately, I chose not to continue in medicine.

I also had practical questions. What would happen next? Who would pay for how my brother was treated?

I was angry.

I didn’t want money, I wanted answers.

I wanted justice to be served.

Who would help us do that and what would that process be like? How long would it take? How much would it cost? Who is the right person to represent us amidst all the lawyers out there? Would it be worth it? Would it take longer for us to move on as a result?

What would my brother want us to do?

It was hard to figure out and some twelve years later (the legal system in India is horrendous, we are still battling it out in court).

Some years later I decided to become a lawyer myself. I decided to focus on winning medical malpractice claims for those who suffered like me. Maybe I could not fight for him in the hospital but I could do it in the courtroom.

It’s a strange feeling to be without your only sibling. Twelve years later the wounds have still not fully healed; I don’t believe they ever will. But that’s for a good reason…

It is imperative that we do something good with the tragedies we experience in life. Motivation can come from all sorts of places, but the strongest motivators come from the deepest pains we experience.

I can never bring Harish back, but he stands with me, every day; every time I pick up the phone and talk to a malpractice victim; and every time I look in the mirror and ask myself if I am living my life fully.

This is why I do what I do.

I love you bro, thank you for this gift.

Ramesh

The Reddy Law Group
www.getreddy.co

Why should I get my medical records?…Your My Lawyer, Do Your Job!

I am your attorney and I promise, I am doing my job :).

Sometimes, us attorneys get the short end of the stick.  The world doesn’t think too kindly of us – until they need an attorney (which we all do at some point in our life).

I was recently at a Tony Robbin’s event (the motivational speaker guy).  He did a poll of the stadium we were in.  He asked:

“How many people here are business owners – raise your hands.  Most of the room raised their hand.”

“How many of you are doctors – raise your hands. About ten percent of the room raised their hand.”

“How many of you are lawyers – raise your hand – ok put them down we don’t want to know who you are.” 

That’s the joke right.  There are so many of us and no-one likes us.  Hence the many jokes in our vernacular.  And, even, the most lovable motivational guy in the world, who has made hundreds of millions and, undoubtedly, employs a team of lawyers, makes jokes about us.

So, naturally, it makes sense why clients may scoff at hearing that I request them to get medical records to me before I take their case.

Ok you got me, I am lazy and cheap.  My mom has been saying it my whole life and I guess some things stick, right?

Wrong.  She was wrong (I love you mom) and the understanding as to why we request you get this for us, has been interpreted incorrectly.

Can you guess the number 1 reason we ask you to get medical records for us?

Drum roll…because the hospitals’ lawyers will make it difficult for us to get them. 

That’s right.  Once, you hear that you have an attorney on the other end of a request for anything – you immediately tighten up.  Even other attorneys do this. 

Ask yourself how you would feel if you heard the following at the other end of a phone call.

“Hi, my name is Ramesh Reddy, I’d like to ask you a few questions, do you have a moment?”

versus

“Hi, my name is Ramesh Reddy, I am a attorney, I’d like to ask you a few questions, do you have moment?”

You feel different right?  Which one makes you feel less at ease?  The second one, no doubt.

So, when we ask you to get your medical records, it is for your own benefit, not ours. 

First of all, discovering whether you have malpractice claim goes so much faster.  You are entitled to get those records on the same day you request them.  You can show up at the hospital and demand your records and images on disk. 

They must give you a digital copy of your images, and if you request your records on the disk, most facilities will happily comply to save the ink.  Once you give them to us, we can begin our investigatory work immediately, instead of waiting the thirty to sixty days it would normally take to get our records.

Second, believe it or not, when defense lawyers start getting involved before a lawsuit is filed in court, they will withhold certain information from those records that may prove incriminating.  I know, it sounds creepy and illegal, but they do this. 

In one case a friend of mine had, the opposing counsel, later on in the trial, produced incriminating evidence showing the sponge count of sponges that were used in a procedure (one of which was left in the patient who filed the law suit).  

They claimed it was an internal document and was not required to be produced based on the initial request made by the lawyer.  

Yet it proved the case for the plaintiff’s lawyers, but only after years of waiting for it!  Defense counsel happily billed their client for their time, even though they should have done the right thing from the start.  

Hmmm…I may be rethinking my view of lawyers

So, even though some lawyers are lazy and cheap, at the Reddy Law Group, I can assure you we are neither.  If the hospital charges you for the records, we will happily pay you what they charged you.  Once we get the records, we promise to get back to you, ASAP, on your chances of succeeding.

Raise your hand if you love your lawyer now!  

Why filing your Louisiana Medical Malpractice Claim is not like Selling Your Home

How many times have you thought to yourself why am I paying a lawyer all that money?

It kind of reminds me of how I think about real estate agents.  Maybe you think like this too…

I mean…I’m usually home anyway when she does a showing (because I don’t like strangers in my house without me there). 

I have to tidy up and put on a smile.  I shake a few hands and I still do most of the talking.

The interweb tells me how much my house is worth and I can read a million blog posts on negotiation tactics.

On top of all that, my agent still has to call me for anything important and I make all the decisions on price.  So what gives?

I feel like my agent is robbing me of 6% because I am doing all the work!

Many of us think that we can do a lot of things on our own (men especially have this problem).  And, with enough time and dedication that is true.  We are built to learn, adapt and apply skills to problems. 

But how much time is that going to take you?  You have a job, a family and you want free time. 

Oh yeah, and you just got hurt by a negligent doctor, so you are pissed and in pain and don’t want to spend money on a lawyer because you’ve sold your house on your own before.  You figure it can’t be rocket science, after all, the law allows me to file a claim and a lawsuit on my own.  

If we all lived in the Matrix we could just download information and apply it instantly to any problem, and get it right the first time. 

But, if you are anything like me, it takes a little while before you can become competent in most things.  Most of the time you are spending learning by making tons of mistakes and applying your lessons learned for the next time.  Except, when it comes to medical malpractice cases, you hopefully don’t have a next time.  So can you really afford to make mistakes?  

Sometimes, you can get away with it (like the following couple did)…but I don’t recommend it.

A few years ago a couple filed a medical malpractice claim with the Patient’s Compensation Fund in Louisiana, against West Bank Surgery Center and Dr. Mark Juneau, that ended up in Louisiana’s highest court.  (Darrin Coulon v. Endurance Risk Partners, et al.)

They did this without the help of an attorney (I presume they had used an agent once in their life). 

They alleged medical negligence against this facility and its employees but did not specify negligence against a particular health care provider as outlined by the Medical Malpractice Act and tried to bring in that provider when suit was eventually filed (click the link below for how medical review panels and filing suit work).

Or so the defendants had thought….

You see, after the panel convened and ruled, as permitted by law, the plaintiffs then filed a lawsuit against these defendants, but alleged new providers had injured them. 

When they filed the lawsuit the defendants were able to get it dismissed based on an exception of prematurity.  Basically, a lawsuit cannot be brought against parties unless they are first brought to a medical review panel.  

And the defendants won! Well, almost…

The couple appealed that decision to the next court and lost.  But then appealed again to the supreme court of Louisiana, and they WON!  (But, it took years)

At issue was the language they had used to characterize the new providers alleged by the defense.  These providers were actually nurse employees of the surgery center who had not been named by name.

The Court determined that the language the couple had used in its brief to the panel was broad enough to include the nurses , and, thus, they were adjudged as named health care providers by the panel.

You see, this apparently minor procedural error (that could have easily been avoided), but YUGE mistake (in the words of Trump) could have made them lose.  They would not have been able to bring the claim if the supreme court had affirmed the lower courts’ decisions.

After all that time (five years in fact)… the case was then sent back down to the district level court to actually try the merits of the case before a jury.

I know what you are saying to yourself… Are you kidding me?

After all that time spent in the courts.  After all that painstaking work and waiting for decisions from subsequent courts. 

After all the sleepless nights and banging yourselves over the head for possibly losing on a minor procedural issue, they then have the opportunity to actually try the case to see if a jury believes that medical negligence occurred? 

And, oh wait…they are very likely to lose again because of the complexity of trying medical malpractice cases before a jury!

So why did this happen? How could they have shaved years off of the case?

Because they wanted to be their own agents. 

This couple thought they were Neo, thought they could easily download information, forgo the Agent (the Matrix puns continue) and sell their house. 

What they built and tried to sell was a House of Cards (this is getting entertaining)…and they got lucky!

So the big takeaway is this…

Medical malpractice law is Uber-complicated and not as simple as sticking a For Sale By Owner sign in the yard, crossing your fingers and waiting for the phone to ring. 

While it is fairly simple to sell your house.  It is extremely complex to handle a medical malpractice claim. 

In fact, most lawyers who practice in personal injury law can’t do it (they send me their cases) because it is too hard.  Too easy to mess up. 

So, when deciding on pursuing a claim don’t be your own agent – just like you wouldn’t be your own surgeon.

Find a medical malpractice lawyer who knows their stuff and will guide you through the crevasses before you fall. 

Because these claims can fail at any moment, you want a skilled guide to walk you through safely and give you the best advice possible for conquering your claim.  It is the only shot you are going to get and there is no room for error.  

Now, go sell your home!

  

,

Wasted time could cost you your claim

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Eeeeeeeeeeeeek its too late…

You finally decided to have that surgery you had been putting off to correct your lower back pain.

You go in for surgery and come out feeling better than ever.  A few weeks pass and you have reduced your pain medication substantially,

but, to your dismay…the pain is back.

You return to your doctor to see what is going on. 

He tells you one thing or the other, and, suggests going back in to have surgery to correct the issue.  Again!

You trust him because he was recommended to you by a good friend and you don’t think twice about his reputation because he is a surgeon with years and years of training.   

You go into surgery and he spends a short time correcting the issue, and voila!, you are all better right? 

Wrong! 

Months later you return feeling worse than you did the first time around.  This situation goes on and on for some time until you go to another surgeon who corrects the problem.

He also informs you that it was done incorrectly the first time and below the standard of care expected for surgeons in the field.

You are disappointed but are not the type of person that sues.  After all, people make mistakes and doctors are people too.

You don’t have the time in a hectic schedule between work and schlepping the kids around to deal with this. 

Time passes…one month, two months then one year. 

You’ve gotten used to the pain.  You’ve gotten used to protecting your back.  You can’t play with your kids the way you used to.  You can’t exercise the way you used to.  You can’t be the person you used to be.

These thoughts race through your head as you are watching television one night with your family.  You see an ad for a local personal injury lawyer and his client who says that he recovered a six figure settlement for his injury. 

You start thinking…You’ve adapted your life to accommodate this mistake.  And you are sad and angry that this doctor should take responsibility for his mistake that cost you so much.

That night you dial the number for that television lawyer.  He tells you that you have an open and shut case.  He says you have three years to file a case from the date you knew or should have known about the malpractice. 

Except, after he files the case with Louisiana’s Patient’s Compensation Fund the defense gets it easily dismissed.

Because he was not a specialist in medical malpractice cases he didn’t realize that while a victim has only three years to file a claim, in actuality, she has only year from the date she knew or should have known about the injury.  Moreover, she can’t file a valid claim, at all, after three years from the date of the malpractice, even if she didn’t know about it. 

Louisiana’s rule is harsh.  Non-specialist lawyers as well as regular people like you, can make significant mistakes when filing these complicated cases.

Your case, which would have certainly brought you justice and a sizable amount of money, will be dismissed because you filed your case more than one year after you had actual knowledge of alleged malpractice (this happened when the second doctor told you about it).

You come to find out that Louisiana has one of the shortest periods of time within which a suit must be filed when a person is injured. 

And, you kick yourself that you waited. 

You had the time to make justice happen for you and your family, but you were too accommodating.

Meanwhile, your surgeon has performed more botched surgeries to more helpless victims who, more likely than not, will make the same mistake as you and wait until it is too late.

Don’t let doctors get away with making mistakes.  Too much is at stake, and too much can be lost, for you and your family to just walk away.

When doctors have a bad day…don’t be the one who pays.

Get Reddy to win your medical malpractice claim today.