Interesting new article in the Wall Street Journal today about steps doctors and hospitals are taking to try to reduce the number of serious mistakes. There are some interesting statistics in the articles, including one from a Johns Hopkins study noting that diagnostic errors kill 40,000 to 80,000 hospitalized patients annually.
One of the interesting things I’ve found in articles like this is how so many quotes are couched in terms of “reducing medical malpractice claims” rather than “reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured due to mistakes”. This article has a little of both.
For those who don’t think medical malpractice lawsuits do any good, consider the fact that they seem to be a motivating factor in efforts to reduce medical errors. That’s good!
The entire article is linked here.
(Howard Zimmerle is a medical malpractice and nursing home malpractice attorney in the uad City area, including Rock Island, Moline, Davenport, Bettendorf and surrounding areas. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com)
Requests to Admit are a fantastic discovery/trial tool, and recent Illinois cases have eliminated a lot of the BS games attorneys used to play with them.
A change to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 216 creates some new requirements though:
1. No more than 30 RTAs can be served without agreement or court approval (including subparts). What’s a subpart? I’d look to Rule 213 and cases discussing interrogatories for guidance. (Why “RTAs” and not “Rs to A”? Sorry grammar police, I’m taking the lead of baseball and it’s constant reference to “RBIs”).
2. The following language must be included in at least 12 point boldface type:
“WARNING: If you fail to serve the response required by Rule 216 within 28
days after you are served with this paper, all the facts set forth in the requests
will be deemed true and all the documents described in the requests will be
Several other recent changes to the Illinois Supreme Court Rules can be found here.
Illinois legal aid has just started a website for people in Rock Island County who may have minor legal problems and don’t need or can’t afford a lawyer. The website at rockisland.illinoislegalaid.org provides some simple advice and forms for things like divorce, child support, small claims cases, landlord/tenant issues, etc. It’s no substitute for a good lawyer, but it might help some people.
I have some concerns with the website. Some of the answers are too brief – for example, there is a section about statutes of limtations, but nothing mentioning that some cases have 1 year statutes, no discussion of the discovery rule, etc. It’s impossible to get a perfect understanding of how statutes of limitations work in one paragraph, but I guess that’s my point. It’s dangerous to give broad advice in a few words. Most of the advice seems pretty good.
Young lawyers should also read some of this. Often the nuts and bolts of everyday practice aren’t taught in law school, and this could provide a good overview for certain “how do I do this” type questions.
For those non-lawyers out there, you’re often better off with a lawyer – but not always. There might be lawyers who will handle your smaller matters, and what you think might be a smaller matter might be more serious and complex than you think. It’s like taking care of a car – I could putz around and try to fix my car myself, but there’s a good chance it would take me forever and I’d still screw it up. It’s much easier for me to pay a mechanic and have it done right – and often come out paying less in the long run.
But believe me, some things are possible to do without lawyers. I got the idea to go to law school after handling a small claims case myself when I was in high school. I loved being in court, and decided to learn more – now more than 12 years later, here I am!
(Howard Zimmerle is a lawyer with offices in Rock Island and Davenport. You can contact him at hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com or 309-794-1660).