“What is Medical Malpractice?” An Interview with ‘Lawyer of the Year’ Victor Pribanic
Interview: “What is Medical Malpractice?”
Medical Malpractice Super Lawyer Victor Pribanic, founder of the Tier 1 law firm Pribanic & Pribanic, was selected by his peers as “Lawyer of the Year” for his region in two areas of law – medical malpractice and product liability. I sat down with Victor Pribanic last week to talk about his career and get a laywoman’s understanding of “what is medical malpractice?”
Victor Pribanic discusses “What is medical malpractice?” in this exclusive interview. © Crowell Photography
MT: So Victor, how many times have you been selected as ‘Lawyer of the Year’ now?
Victor: “I’m not exactly sure, but around a half a dozen or so.”
MT: What is ‘medical malpractice?’
Victor: “Medical malpractice is anytime a doctor makes a ‘negligent mistake’ that’s considered ‘below the standard of care.’ In other words, they have to behave as well as the average doctor would. If they don’t, and they hurt someone, there’s a potential case.”
MT: There’s a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, is that right?
Victor: “Two years is the general rule, with a couple of important exceptions. One is for minors – for instance, if a child is injured at birth by a doctor or nurse at the hospital, they have until they’re 18 plus two years to file a lawsuit. The other important exception is the ‘discovery rule,’ where, for instance, if you had your appendix taken out and the doctors left an instrument inside of you and you didn’t find it for five years, you’d have two years from the time you discovered it to file a claim.”
MT: How do I know if I have a case?
Victor: “Unfortunately, a patient has to suffer an injury with long term consequences, or death. Doctors and hospitals make many mistakes that they get a ‘free pass’ for because they don’t do enough harm for it to make economic sense to pursue the case. By the time you spend the money and time required to put a case together, the recovery from a jury or whomever isn’t going to exceed what’s been invested in the case. So it has to be a serious case with serious consequences.”
MT: Let’s say I have a case – how much will it cost me?
Victor: “It won’t cost you anything. These cases are very expensive to pursue, which limits the kind of cases we can accept, but we advance the $20–$100,000 required for the case on a contingency basis, which means if we win, the client pays us back, but that’s if – and only if – it’s a successful case for our client.”
MT: What information do you need for the free, initial consultation?
Victor: “We’ll need general background information, the event or events that the patient or family thinks were result of negligence or mistakes. We need to know the type of injury and timeline for treatment. Sometimes patients have only vague recollections, but we can gather a lot from medical records. We’ll then have experts and in-house staff with medical training review the records and see if the doctor or hospital was guilty of negligence that harmed the patient.”
MT: Are subsequent consultations free?
Victor: “In effect, all consultations are free until there’s a successful outcome, at which time we recoup our costs from the overall reward.”
MT: What was the hardest case you’ve ever tried?
Victor: “The hardest cases I have ever tried were probably in my youth, defending criminals. But that’s very different from medical malpractice cases. Every case is challenging, I don’t think ‘hard’ is quite the right word. But if you’re on the right side of the law, even the hardest case is worth the fight.”
MT: What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Victor: “We can never replace a loved one, nor fully restore health, but we can help those who’ve been left behind or have become disabled by their injury by improving the rest of their lives and making sure they have the care they need. Dealing with injuries and medical malpractice cases, I have clients I still hear from after 25, 30…35 years whom I helped as children, who send me cards every year for the holidays. That’s the best part of my work – knowing that I’ve improved the lives of people for the better.”