Many people look to their local university medical center for care. This includes medical centers at Ohio State, University of Cincinnati, the Toledo University Medical Center or through their affiliated physicians. However, they may not realize that if they are injured or killed due to medical negligence, going to their university medical center can mean far less compensation in a medical malpractice case, even if the negligence was egregious.
Why would you receive less compensation from a state university medical center?
State universities are, by definition, owned and operated by the state. Physicians, nurses and other ancillary staff who are employed by the state are too.
Decades ago, any state-owned medical institution or employee was entirely shielded from lawsuits. They could not be sued for negligence, no matter how clear and horrible it was. Fortunately, total immunity was lifted years ago by the passage of new laws that allowed for negligence lawsuits to proceed. It has been replaced by what is known as “qualified immunity.”
What is “qualified immunity?”
Qualified immunity allows you to file a lawsuit against a state-employed physician or state-operated medical facility. However, it does not allow you to secure the same level of compensation for your injuries and other economic damages. There are very strict limits on the amount of compensation you can receive for pain and suffering or for loss of consortium. These caps are in many cases even more restrictive than cases brought against non-state-owned centers or physicians. You also cannot claim and recover damages for past medical bills against a state-owned medical facility or state-employed physician.
Lastly, the state will seek to avoid future payments of necessary medical costs as damages by claiming various statutory set offs the state is entitled to. Privately owned or employed medical professionals are unable to deduct damages in this way. For example, the state may claim that future damages should be reduced by any publicly funded disability payment the injured party will receive. The state could even introduce evidence of your private medical insurer’s ability to pay damages that the provider caused through their own negligence.
What do our attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law recommend?
Our advice: unless absolutely necessary, avoid seeking medical care from a state-owned medical center or by a physician who is employed by the state of Ohio.
There are many non-state-owned facilities and physicians that you can seek care from. If you instead receive care from a private medical facility, you can avoid the issues discussed above and seek maximum compensation should you suffer from medical malpractice.