Medical malpractice is a serious problem which happens thousands of times per year. Estimates vary but one expert puts the figure at 400,000 unnecessary deaths per year. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional acts or fails to act in a manner that falls below an accepted standard of care in the medical community and causes death or injury. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence which can devastate families and result in loss of loved ones, catastrophic injuries, and astronomical medical bills. When faced with a potential medical malpractice claim it’s imperative to seek compassionate and competent legal counsel. At Anderson Hemmat we take medical malpractice cases seriously and with a promise to our clients: we will fight as hard as we can to get you the results you deserve.
Ms. Della Gallegos’ Case
Recently we had a case that perfectly illustrates our work ethic and our commitment to clients. Occasionally a medical malpractice case comes into our Denver Personal Injury law firm which illustrates a particularly egregious medical mistake; however, it’s a little rarer to have a case that combines both a blatant medical malpractice issue with a serious attorney malpractice claim. This was the situation we faced with our client Della Gallegos. In terms of legal representation, Ms. Gallegos’ case illustrates the necessity of hiring an attorney with a policy of prompt client communication and a commitment to the highest ethical standards.
In 2006, Ms. Gallegos began experiencing severe headaches that steadily worsened. By October of 2006, the headaches were so bad that Ms. Gallegos went for testing at a local hospital. An MRI was performed but nothing was found on the scans, so she was sent back to her family doctor. Ms. Gallegos’ family doctor then prescribed the typical medications used for migraine headaches. In the ensuing months, she did everything possible to alleviate her symptoms and because she had had an MRI performed, she reasonably believed there was no serious condition underlying her migraine episodes. Over the next three years, Ms. Gallegos’ condition continued to deteriorate to the point where she was experiencing loss of vision and facial weakness on the left side of her face as a result of the debilitating headaches. Alarmed at these serious collateral symptoms, Ms. Gallegos returned to the hospital in July of 2009 no longer convinced these were merely migraine headaches.
Another MRI was performed and this time the doctors immediately saw a very large meningioma tumor abutting Ms. Gallegos’ spinal cord and interfering with her optic nerve. The medical team then reviewed the 2006 MRI and found the meningioma tumor was clearly visible in the 2006 scan. Because three years had elapsed since the initial scan, the tumor had grown tenfold. What was initially a tumor that could have been treated with focused radiation therapy was now a tumor that required three open brain surgeries. It goes without saying that compared to open brain surgery, focused radiation treatments are substantially less invasive, and the recovery time is far shorter. This was a life-threatening brain tumor that had been completely missed in the earlier 2006 MRI even though it was clearly visible on the scan. Ms. Gallegos had been put through an additional three years of suffering because a doctor completely failed to investigate her illness with the due diligence expected of medical professionals.
As experienced medical malpractice attorneys this is what we at Anderson Hemmat consider a good medical malpractice case. The evidence in this case was very strong and with competent legal representation the likelihood of success with a case like this is quite high. Unfortunately, the attorneys Ms. Gallegos retained, Patric LeHouillier and Associates, PC—who advertise their expertise in medical malpractice cases—bungled the case so badly they missed the statute of limitations deadline thus preventing Ms. Gallegos from recovering on this terrible medical mistake. The statute of limitations is a deadline that is the absolute basic filing deadline for a medical malpractice claim. Missing the statute of limitations deadline is a mistake so elementary, it almost defies imagination that an attorney who advertises their expertise in this area could miss it.
You can imagine the pain, shock, and horror Ms. Gallegos was then faced with: She was suddenly in a position where not one but two professionals, both of whom held themselves out to be experts in their fields, had been negligent to the point of serious injury. Despite this, she was now faced with a case that seemed to be dead in the water because the statute of limitations had run. After the statute of limitations passed, our firm was hired by Ms. Gallegos in an attempt to recover from Patric LeHouillier and Patric LeHouillier and Associates, PC for attorney negligence. We took the case with enthusiasm because we wanted to show Ms. Gallegos that attorneys can be honest, ethical, and diligent, and we wanted to take her case to trial and get the compensation she deserved. Ms. Gallegos shouldn’t have to fight this alone, and she shouldn’t have to go bankrupt trying to pay bills she should never have incurred in the first place. Needless to say, our law firm was ready and up for the challenge.
Our firm was faced with an incredibly tough case: we had to prove both that Ms. Gallegos would have won her medical malpractice case and we had to prove that Patric LeHouillier was negligent in handling her case. Although this would be a tough fight, we knew we had the skill and experience to get the verdict Ms. Gallegos so desperately deserved. We spent the ensuing months preparing for trial and giving Ms. Gallegos the legal representation she never received from the first firm she hired. Answering her questions and preparing a rock solid case while being ever cognizant of deadlines, we focused our attention on getting a just verdict for our client.
Anderson Hemmat Prevails at Trial
We arrived at court ready and armed to do our best to get Ms. Gallegos the compensation she deserved. The case was tried in Colorado Springs in front of a jury comprised of Colorado Springs residents. After a full week of testimony and a day of deliberation, the jury came back and $800,000* was awarded to Ms. Gallegos. The jury found the doctor was liable for legal malpractice for missing the tumor in the original 2006 MRI and Patric LeHouillier was liable for attorney malpractice. After all she had been through Ms. Gallegos finally received the money she needed to pay her bills and the peace of mind she deserved. This reward of $800,000* is reasonable and just given that Ms. Gallegos was the victim of not one instance of malpractice but two.
Ethical Standards and Professional Judgment
Attorneys are entrusted with some of the most important issues a person will ever face, and this is especially true of Ms. Gallegos’ case. This is truly a case of adding insult to injury: at a time when a serious medical mistake caused Ms. Gallegos’ to endure—and recover from—three open brain surgeries she should not have to worry her attorney is also failing her. In joining the bar and taking on the practice of law, an attorney is expected to act according to a high standard of ethical and professional judgment. The standard of care is high because the consequences can be life altering. At Anderson Hemmat we relish this responsibility, and we have the diligence and experience to handle complex cases like Ms. Gallegos’.
This case illustrates an error that could have been avoided with proper, principled representation. Missing a statute of limitations on a case that was such an obvious, textbook example of medical malpractice is inexcusable. If you believe you might have been the victim of medical malpractice or lawyer negligence contact our office today. We can go through your case and evaluate your legal options and explain the process in clear language. These cases can be complex and emotional, but our clients know they have an advocate who genuinely cares about their case. At Anderson Hemmat we are dedicated to each case, and we treat each client as an individual, taking the time to go through everything thoroughly. Take advantage of our skill and dedication: if you are facing a potential case of malpractice committed by a medical or legal professional, call our personal injury law firm at 303-782-9999 today.
At Anderson Hemmat we pride ourselves both on our excellent trial skills and our conscientious approach to our clients and their cases. Effective communication is essential and here at Anderson Hemmat we are committed to providing timely updates to our clients on their cases. Along with constant client communication we are tireless champions of clients who are injured by sloppy and negligent professional conduct. At Anderson Hemmat our professional reputation is paramount, and we are proud of our high ethical standards and our zealous representation at trial. When choosing a medical malpractice or personal injury attorney hire a firm that responds quickly to your inquiries and has the experience necessary to maximize your chance of success in the courtroom.