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  1. #1
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    Default Finding a Good Lawyer - My Family Wants Me to Sue

    I just got discharged from the hospital after a really nasty fight with clostridium difficile. I got sick last Friday and thought that my stomach upset was due to the NSAIDs I've been on for my upcoming knee surgery. I got progressively worse and started medical treatment on Monday. Monday night I went to the ER because I was dehydrated. Tuesday I started with violent vomiting that required ER intervention and I was finally admitted on Wednesday after intractable pain was added to the whole mess. The dehydration caused hypokalemia that was severe enough to affect my heart. It was a scary and urgent situation. I'm finally home, but still have a long way to go.

    C. diff wasn't even on my radar in the beginning because I haven't been on any kind of antibiotics lately. I haven't visited a nursing home or hospital. I had one fight with C. diff in 2010 when I worked at the regional trauma center. I had gotten infected while on the job and this was covered under workers comp. I was actually let go from my job while out on disability for the C. diff. I couldn't come back until my lab work showed I was no longer shedding the toxin and I guess my boss couldn't wait that long for me to come back. I was getting treatment from the employees clinic at the trauma center, but after I was let go, I couldn't continue my care that as it was for employees only. I transferred my care to my PCP. The doctors believe that it wasn't fully eradicated the first time and has been lying dormant in my system. Due to the damage my GI tract has suffered, I will need to be on daily meds my entire life. The doctor also said that this may not be my last run in with C. diff. Frankly, the news kind of sucks.

    My dad told me today that he wants me to find a worker's compensation lawyer and sue the trauma center as this was a work related illness from the start. While I understand his point, I don't want to get involved in something that is so over my head. Is it even worth it to try to pursue this? I've never been one to have gimme syndrome and certainly don't want to add to the multitude of petty cases that are currently clogging the judicial system. But, I honestly don't know if this situation holds merit.

    If I do decide to consult a lawyer, how do I weed the good from the bad? This is so beyond my comfort zone. I told my family this but they seem hell bent on "sticking it to the man". Oy. It was an overwhelming family discussion on the way home from the hospital to put it mildly.
    Last edited by Snowflake; Nov. 24, 2012 at 06:14 PM.


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  2. #2
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    Help me understand how this is your employer's fault? I'm missing something.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


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  3. #3
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    A consultation with a good lawyer experienced in personal injury/medical malpractice/workers comp will run you $200-500. In some cases, they will do an initial consult for free. You aren't going to get a good idea of the merits (or lack thereof) of your case, unless you see someone who knows the laws, regulations, etc. of your state AND has the exact details of your case.
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    Help me understand how this is your employer's fault? I'm missing something.
    I contracted the original case of C. diff while on the job at the trauma center.



  5. #5
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    Does anyone have recommendations for sites that have reviews and recommendations of lawyers?

    My ex did a personal injury case and thought he had hired a good lawyer but the guy was like a deer in headlights in court. He counseled my ex to decline a $250,000 settlement and go to trial and then things unraveled in the courtroom due to the lawyer being a total buffoon. I guess his experience has me gun shy too. It was a long, drawn out process and quite the roller coaster rider for him. I do not want to go through something like that. Especially now, when I feel like I've been hit by a semi truck.



  6. #6
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    I don't know. C. Difficile is all over the place, how could you prove you contracted it at the trauma center you worked at? And, then, you'd likely have to prove that it was the facility's fault for lack of proper sanitary techniques rather than some slip up on your part (NOT saying you missed something, but that's what an attorney for the employer would say). Tough thing to prove, I think.

    You should consult with an attorney (I'm not one, so my opinion doesn't matter ) and see what they have to say, but, as you already know, personal injury attorneys aren't always looking out for your best interests.


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  7. #7
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    You might want to define what your "best interests" are.

    Do you want/need money for things you think are a direct result of someone else's fault? E.g. the medication?

    Do you need to keep stress to a minimum, and get healthy?

    Can you afford a minimum of out-of-pocket costs (even if a lawyer works on a contingency fee basis, you will have to pay for court filing fees, photocopying, courier, etc.)?

    Do you want to prove a point? "Do it for the principle"? (99 times out of 100, this is not a cost-effective reason for going to court.)
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canaqua View Post
    I don't know. C. Difficile is all over the place, how could you prove you contracted it at the trauma center you worked at? And, then, you'd likely have to prove that it was the facility's fault for lack of proper sanitary techniques rather than some slip up on your part (NOT saying you missed something, but that's what an attorney for the employer would say). Tough thing to prove, I think.
    This was exactly my thoughts and what I told my family, but it fell on deaf ears. Their thoughts is that the facility already admitted guilt by covering my first run with C. diff under workers comp.

    I definitely don't want to get involved with a lawyer that will take any case for the minute chance he might get lucky and get an employer to settle to make things go away. I would like to find someone who would be totally and completely honest and tell me not to waste my (and their) time if that's the case.

    If I need to, I'll meet with someone to appease my family but kind of hope for a straight shooter that will help get me out of this mess.
    Last edited by Snowflake; Nov. 24, 2012 at 07:02 PM.



  9. #9
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    Best advice is to use word of mouth for recommendations. There is also martindale.com, but it doesn't list a lot of lawyers, and sometimes doesn't rate them either. (I just checked my town, half the lawyers aren't listed, including me, and none of them is rated.)
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng



  10. #10
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    I'd instead go for wrongful termination, they let you go for an infection? How did they NOT have a choice in waiting until it ran it's course.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkmoonlady View Post
    I'd instead go for wrongful termination, they let you go for an infection? How did they NOT have a choice in waiting until it ran it's course.
    Yeah, again, I'm not an attorney, but this sounds like the easier route. They let you go because you weren't allowed to care for patients until you were clear of an infection you, presumably, acquired at work? That's pretty messed up.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkmoonlady View Post
    I'd instead go for wrongful termination, they let you go for an infection? How did they NOT have a choice in waiting until it ran it's course.
    The termination letter I got said that I was "unable to satisfactorily perform the functions of the job" with no further explanation. Our state is a "hire and fire at will" state and employers don't need to have a valid reason to let anyone go. I had been out of work for a week and a half at that point. This was true to the MO of my boss. She let go another girl while she was out on maternity for the same generic reason. She just wanted to be able to hire a person to fill the spot instead of trying to find coverage for the shift and paying overtime. There was a bonus structure for supervisors to limit overtime and she was really on top of maxing that out.

    Even if they offered me my old job back I wouldn't take it. I wasn't out of work long and qualified for Unemployment Insurance during that time. I got a new job within 2 weeks and it paid more than the old one so I really wasn't negatively impacted by the lay off.



  13. #13
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    c. diff is everywhere, usually including everyone's gut, but is kept in check by the other 'good' bugs. You don't know how you got it before, you don't really know how you got it now.

    This article was pretty fascinating: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...a_fact_specter


    I'm really sorry that you got so sick! But I think it would be very hard to pin your current illness on something that happened 2 years ago.

    If you were going to sue it should have been when you were let go back then. THAT sounds off to me.


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  14. #14
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    I hate to say it but I'm not sure you'd have a case, though it may be worth talking to someone. I had C. Diff in 2008, and my son had it this summer (on top of colitis and H.pylori) I was told by his GI doc that C. Diff is RAMPANT in our area. Apparently there have even been studies done on why it is so prevalent here in WNY.

    A good friend of mine is a Paralegal and works with one of the largest personal injury firms in the area. If you'd like to talk to her, I can hook you up. Actually she occasionally posts here, her handle is MiasPal if you want to PM her.

    I could also talk to my hubby, since being a surgery center admin he handles legal matters from the other side. You'd be surprised how many people *do* sue, and for what.

    I'm glad you are home and feeling a bit better. You can have a lot of residual issues and develop colitis post-c. diff (at least that is what my own GP told me) so take it easy on yourself, ok?
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


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  15. #15
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    Thanks FG! I'm sure your hubby has lots of fun stories. I don't want to be one of the crazies that sues willy nilly and without merit. I have never been one to simply throw things out there and see what sticks. Especially something like this that could come back and bite me in my already very tender butt. We'll just say having my family bring up a lawsuit was an overwhelming conversation to be undertaking considering my current state.

    I did develop the chronic colitis after my first run-in with C. diff. Not fun. I didn't know it was rampant in our area. Interesting. C. diff and cancer - two great things to be above average in! Why do I stay in WNY again?


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  16. #16
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    Your firing sounds more actionable than the infection.

    The CDC web site (under C.Diff, Clinician, FAQ) says that around 80% of C. Diff infections are caused by medical treatment, and that some adults are already colonized. I'm sure any good lawyer would contend that you may have already been colonized when you started working there, and you probaby can't prove that you weren't.


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  17. #17
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    Thanks Kestrel - I think you gave me a solid out with the family. I think the CDC info will prove useful in diffusing the situation. Thank you so much!

    I'm not even willing to pursue the wrongful termination because in all honesty, it was the catalyst for getting me an even better job. That situation all turned out OK in the end. And I'm quite happy that I got the better of the situation. My old boss is still a beyotch and struggling to keep her department staffed and I have a great job with a ton of flexibility that I didn't have before. Sounds like all is right with the world there.

    Blugal was right on the money and my best interest right now is to focus on healing and keeping things stress free. I have knee surgery coming up on December 12th so this isn't the first hurdle I'll need to cross health wise.



  18. #18
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    As an HR director I have to ask this....why wouldn't FMLA have kicked in...the general requirements are that your company has to employ at least 50 people I think...maybe 75, you have to have worked for them at least 12 months and worked 1250 hours in the preceding 12 months. If those requirements are met, you should have been FMLA eligible for up to 12 weeks of federally protected leave...including the company continuing to pay their portion of your medical benefits. Also workers comp if they paid initially seems like they should have paid benefits as well. Just my two cents.


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowflake View Post
    Thanks FG! I'm sure your hubby has lots of fun stories. I don't want to be one of the crazies that sues willy nilly and without merit. I have never been one to simply throw things out there and see what sticks. Especially something like this that could come back and bite me in my already very tender butt. We'll just say having my family bring up a lawsuit was an overwhelming conversation to be undertaking considering my current state.

    I did develop the chronic colitis after my first run-in with C. diff. Not fun. I didn't know it was rampant in our area. Interesting. C. diff and cancer - two great things to be above average in! Why do I stay in WNY again?
    Yeah, you know.... C. Diff, Cancer, Infertility, Thryoid Disease, Auto-Immune disorders.... Gotta love WNY. :P

    It's hard to make decisions when you are fresh out of the hospital. Hang in there, and take care of yourself.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


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  20. #20
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    kb, I hadn't been there for 12 months yet. This was also a civil service job that required testing. The test hadn't been administered for over 15 years and the supervisor had a direct hand in delaying it. So, the employees that were there that had never tested were considered provisional/temporary because they hadn't yet tested into and qualified for the position. This allowed her more freedom in just letting people go at random.



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