A Frivolous Lawsuit is any legal claim that seems trivial and lacks merit. Often, an individual without legal counsel makes such a claim, and the claim is brought as a result of poor understanding for court processes and the law in general. The Prison Litigation Reform Act was enacted in 1995 to prevent inmates from filing such lawsuits.
To avoid filing a Frivolous Lawsuit, Federal Law mandates an attorney to thoroughly research the legality of all claims. Failure to make such efforts can result in serious consequences for all persons involved, including the representing lawyer. These consequences will be discussed later.
FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS ARISING FROM MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
A very common example of a Frivolous Lawsuit is Medical Malpractice. If you watch television long enough you will notice just how many personal injury lawyers there are, and very few of them are actually looking to help you out. In most cases, a personal injury lawyer will take thirty-fifty percent of money awarded to you as a result of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Despite this fact, the availability of these lawyers has driven up the number of Frivolous Lawsuits filed over the past year.
FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS VS LEGITIMATE LAWSUITS – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
What makes a medical malpractice lawsuit “frivolous”? Isn’t a patient entitled to receive compensation for damages caused by their healthcare provider? In some cases, this answer is “yes”. The difference between a “frivolous” lawsuit and legitimate lawsuit is in the context. For example, when you are admitted to a hospital there are many healthcare professionals who may assist you during your stay. These individuals can be anyone from your primary doctor, nurses required to bring you food or change your bedpan, or a physician (in the absence of your regular doctor) who wrote a note in your chart on the day you discharged. summons and complaint
A legitimate lawsuit might be filed against the doctor who actually performed your liposuction that left you permanently scarred. A Frivolous Lawsuit would be suing every individual who handled your chart, but had nothing at all to do with the surgery. In some cases when a doctor fills in for a colleague, they may sign a discharge note for a patient they never met. The threat of Frivolous Lawsuits is of special concern for doctors in “high risk” fields such as an OB-GYN or an anesthesiologist.
HOW FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS CAN DRIVE HEALTHCARE COSTS HIGHER
A Frivolous Lawsuit can be devastating in cases involving medical malpractice, not only to the doctor(s) implicated but also to the general taxpayer. The overwhelming opinion on Frivolous Lawsuits is they drive up healthcare costs and make quality care harder to obtain. Once a Doctor is implicated in a malpractice lawsuit, their malpractice insurance premiums rise.
This new insurance rate can be effective for any period of time determined by the individual policies of the insurance company. Doctors worried about Frivolous Lawsuits may order more tests than they normally would to ensure they are doing everything “medically necessary” or, in these cases, “medically available” to treat a patient. These increased tests can also drive up the cost of healthcare because they require more money from hospitals and doctors to run and they take more time. In addition to running more tests, doctors may hesitate before prescribing medications like controlled substances and newer drugs fearing a Frivolous Lawsuit on rare side effects.
SANCTIONS AGAINST FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS – FINES IMPOSED
Are there Sanctions against Frivolous Lawsuits? Yes. Frivolous Lawsuits waste valuable time and resources of courts. Cases with no legal merit delay the processing of valid lawsuits. If a court rules the lawsuit is frivolous, the court may impose a fine on the parties involved for tying up the court and creating delays.
COUNTERSUIT THE FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT
There are options available if you are the one being sued as part of a Frivolous Lawsuit. If you feel the claim against you is unfounded or trivial, you have the right to hire an attorney and bring a countersuit against the Plaintiff. Most people making Frivolous Lawsuits are looking for a quick way to make money and if you threaten a countersuit, these individuals are likely to back off.