Should You Choose a Board-Certified Medical Malpractice Attorney?

This video features S. Randall "Randy" Hood, a Medical Malpractice attorney based in South Carolina.

South Carolina Lawyer Randy Hood

Video Transcript:

Randy Hood:

This is not about money, this is about making sure it doesn't happen to somebody else.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you're in need of help with what you think might be a medical malpractice claim, how can you be sure you find the right lawyer and should you choose one that is board certified, and what does that mean? Well, we're gonna answer all those questions and more right now, as we ask the lawyer. Hi again everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com, and my guest is South Carolina attorney Randy Hood. I wanna remind you right off the top, if you wanna ask Randy questions of your own, just go to AskTheLawyers.com, click the button in the upper corner that says Ask a Lawyer, and it'll walk you right here, the very simple process, or you can always call the phone number that'll be on the screen when we talk to Randy. Randy, it's always good to see you, thank you for helping us out and answering our questions.

Randy Hood:

Thank you, I hope you're well.

Rob Rosenthal:

So let's just start a little definition, what does it mean when someone like yourself who is a board-certified specialist in medical malpractice, tell me what that means for the layman.

Randy Hood:

It really just means that you have an expertise in a specific area of the law, just like an obstetrician or a cardiologist are specialized in their respective niche of medical profession, the same goes for lawyers. I wouldn't recommend that you go to a medical medical malpractice lawyer to do probate work, and I wouldn't go to a probate lawyer to do medical malpractice work. We try to stay within our lane. The legal industry has been slow to respond to ensuring that people are certified in a specific area of the law. It doesn't mean you can't practice in another area, it simply means that there is an added expertise. Myself I had to have a certain amount of experience, had to practice for a certain length of time, and I had to take a test that showed that I had the knowledge base to be able to represent people so that I could obtain certification. That doesn't mean that people who aren't certified can't do the job, it simply means that you cut your risk by going to someone who is certified, and I worked very hard to obtain my certification and to maintain my certification, and this is what I do every day. Every day, all day, I do catastrophic injury litigation regarding trucking cases, I do sex abuse cases, but the large majority of my practice is medical malpractice.

Rob Rosenthal:

And is it the majority of the personality attorneys that practice medical malpractice are certified, or is this a very small number?

Randy Hood:

It's a very small number. The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, the ABPLA, is an organization that certifies attorneys who specialize in either medical malpractice or legal malpractice. It is sanctioned by the American Bar Association, and which is the largest legal organization in the United States of America, and contains both defense and plaintiff lawyers on the APBLA, the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys also has defense attorneys and plaintiffs attorneys that receive this specific designation, so it isn't where you're just representing patients or you're just representing hospitals or doctors, it's whoever has the proficiency and experience to be able to obtain the certification to represent their respective party in this type of litigation.

Rob Rosenthal:

And Randy what if somebody thinks, well, it's probably gonna cost me a lot more money to hire somebody who's board-certified specialist... what do you say to that?

Randy Hood:

Costs the same. Probably will cost you less, if you really think about it, because at the end of the day, this is what I do every day. We charge the same, whether it's Billy Bob Smith down the street or me. The customary charge for a medical malpractice case is 40%, we've all heard of, Well, you charge a third, most people understand that it's a third, well, that's for a traffic accident or something where they're not gonna spend a lot of money. In my cases, and in most medical malpractice attorneys that I know of or are aware of, we put our own money out to represent someone. That usually runs for a typical... There is no such thing as a typical. But generally, in a medical malpractice case, that's gonna run somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000, and so we charge the same fee percentage, whether you use somebody who is board-certified or not, and then the difference is because of the people that I know in the experience that I have and doing this every day, I don't spend as much money and getting experts because I know where to go and how to go and how to obtain this information, I know how to save money on costs, because at the end of the day, you charge a fee percentage and the cost of the litigation, and if I'm spending less on cost, you're actually going to a board-certified attorney, then at the end of the day, you're gonna be making more money because there's gonna be less cost out.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's talk a little bit about medical malpractice cases, Randy, I know a lot of attorneys just don't wanna even touch them there, what makes them so difficult, what makes it... Why do some people not wanna try a medical malpractice case?

Randy Hood:

There's a number of reasons, but let's just talk about South Carolina, just because that's the state that I practice in. I get calls from cases in other states, and I help lawyers in other states, but I practice primarily in South Carolina. In South Carolina, you have three different types of entities that can be involved in a medical malpractice case, this is gonna get dry and boring and I apologize. You have a non-profit entity, which is considered to be someone who has applied to the IRS and received some type of 501c3 or c6 designation that allows them to provide charitable care. You have a for-profit entity, and then you have a, what is referred to as a Tort Claims Act entity, that's usually either a state or municipal organization that has sovereign immunity, and it gives it certain defenses in South Carolina. And what happens if a doctor does something to you, in any of those three organizations, there are going to be caps, and when I say caps, I'm talking about a cap on damages, I know how to work the caps for medical malpractice. In a private entity in South Carolina, essentially, that refers to a approximately a $475,000 cap, you're entitled to three caps if you have three entities, and then you may have more than one cap depending on the number of claimants, whether it's the deceased person, whether it's a wife, whether it's a child, and so there are just a number of different factors that go into figuring out, before you even file it, who can sue and how can I sue and how can I maximize the exposure of the people who did something wrong that caused an injury to my client?

Randy Hood:

It gets very difficult to figure out all of those types of things. The typical doctor that reviews This is $600 an hour, if it's a neuro surgeon, it's gonna be $800 to $1,000 an hour. If it's an orthopedist, it's $800 an hour. And so you have tremendous costs that go into even figuring out whether you have a case. If you have an automobile accent case, you look at the accident report it as who was at fault, and you spend no money determining, yes, I can represent that person. In my case, I have the same person come in and it may cost me $10,000 to find out whether I even have a case, and so that's a lot of money to put out. And you don't go back to the client and say, Hey, give me the $10,000 back or the $5,000 back. You simply eat those costs, and so it's very expensive to establish whether someone has a case or not, and because of that, 98% of the lawyers that practice all do not do plaintiff's medical malpractice work.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's talk about results a little bit, Randy. Obviously, you're trying to get monetary damages for your clients, but there's also another result that could happen is it may be a change in the medical field, you can do a greater good. Do you see that happening?

Randy Hood:

Absolutely, absolutely. In fact, I would say that there are times where we make it a condition of settlement that certain policies and procedures are changed. It's imperative that not only do we represent people, not only do we attempt to maximize their outcome from a financial standpoint, not only do we try to give them closure, but we try to make the world a better place. That sounds Pollyanna, and some people may think that that's a BS type answer, but it's the truth. Obviously, if we see a problem and we do this a lot, and we see something that's wrong, then we want to fix that wrong so that it never happens to another person. One person being injured or killed is one too many, and if we can help be a solution to preventing that from happening again, how can you not do that? How can you not try to make that part of the settlement process or the resolution of the claim? I think you have to do that simply as part of the moral character part of representing somebody in this type of a case. 

Rob Rosenthal:

Is that something you hear from clients too, that obviously there's the monetary damages, but do you hear them say, I just wanna make sure this doesn't happen to somebody else?

Randy Hood:

I would say that 80% or 90% of the people that we represent say, This is not about money, this is about making sure it doesn't happen to somebody else. Now, obviously, I'm sure that there's a part of them that wants to make sure that there's some type of financial justice, but the overwhelming majority of the people that come to see us, it's more about making sure this doesn't happen to someone else because they're in pain, they're hurting, and they don't want it to happen to somebody else. And and I think that most of them feel a moral responsibility to do something, because if they don't, it's gonna keep happening over and over again.

Rob Rosenthal:

Thank you so much. Lots of great information as always Randy. Thank you for much for taking some time and answering our questions. 

Randy Hood:

Thank you. 

Rob Rosenthal:

That's gonna do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been South Carolina attorney Randy Hood, who is himself board certified for medical malpractice law. And remember, if you wanna ask Randy any questions of your own, go to AskTheLawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page that says Ask a Lawyer, it doesn't cost you anything to ask your questions. Thanks for watching, I'm Rob Rosenthal with Ask the Lawyers.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

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