The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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ANSWER: There are a couple of things you could do.
1. Call the utility company and ask where his last bill was forwarded.
2. Contact the Iowa Secretary of State and search for corporation information using the company name. This you can do online.
3. Are you aware of any relatives that might know his whereabouts?
4. For $1.00 you can fill out a form at the US Post Office in the vicinity where he did business and that post master will provide his change of address.
5. For lawyers there is also Westlaw’s information system.
6. Internet searches in general at sites like Classmates.com may provide contact information or at least a way to communicate with the person.
7. I also check the Iowa Court’s Online docket information for leads.
8. There is the Polk County Jail prisoner list that can prove helpful. Most counties probably have such a list or the jailer may provide information. This is pretty much only for persons who don’t abide by the law.
9. Put an ad in the local newspaper seeking anyone who can provide contact information.10. Check with the county clerk at the courthouse, because he may be a party to a lawsuit.
I have more suggestions but that is good enough for now.
This blog is the fourth in a multi-part series addressing the concerns faced by patients who experience a wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and/or wrong-patient surgery. It also addresses many of the initial questions encountered by their attorneys. This series is directed to surgeons who want to learn and be aware of why these mistakes continue to occur, some of whom believe that surgical mistakes of this nature would never happen to them. It can and does because as the medical student admits his studies indicate less than fifty percent of surgeons actually use the time-out.
As revealed in the previous blogs in this series, there is an abundance of information that can be obtained by accessing a particular medical care provider’s website and then digging through it with a fine-toothed comb. Lots of the information found on a medical provider’s website can be saved to your computer and archived to be used as evidence in a later malpractice lawsuit or to settle the claim.
Remember that surgery centers may be owned by a hospital system, privately owned, county owned or owned by the state. In Iowa they may be owned by a municipality in which case different rules may apply concerning the statute of limitations. Don’t be lazy or complacent when it comes to these cases.
Among the information that can often be found on a medical service provider’s website is a statement of ownership. This statement often includes such information as who is the owner of the medical center as well as what other businesses it is affiliated with. Sometimes this statement also includes memberships, certifications, and accreditations, which can be useful information when looking for rules and procedures that the medical center’s staff must follow during specific procedures.
Other information that can also be found within the medical service provider’s website are a list of surgical procedures performed at the center and a list of the patient’s rights. It will list the surgeons and what procedures they are qualified to perform. It may also have forms surgeons need to download, fill out and submit to gain privileges at the surgical center. Contact for the administrator will certainly be listed. Probably you’ll have to contact the administrator to decipher the names of the surgical team.
Lastly each and every surgery center must be accredited in some fashion. That means the center will adopt as part of its surgical protocol rules of the accrediting organization. After finding out which organization accredits the facility, go to the website for the accrediting organization and search for the rules that create the correct protocol for that institution. Many physicians have partial ownership in the facility either directly or indirectly. The Secretary of State’s website can provide valuable ownership information or a contact that can advise about ownership. When it comes to patient safety don’t just assume you and the owners aren’t on the same page. More than likely you are. The facilities reputation is on the line and they want to protect that reputation. Chances are your client’s claim will not be taken lightly by the facility. The doctor may be angry and fail to act professionally, which doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is angry with you or the patient. They are more than likely angry with themselves for making such a bone-headed mistake.
I’ve had doctors react both ways, angry and conciliatory. I’ve had partners of the doctor apologize to the patient at depositions. Some doctors will readily admit their mistake, while others will blame the surgical staff or the patient. While I can understand blaming the staff, blaming the patient seems like an odd reaction. Staff should all be aware of the surgical site, the procedure and the patient’s identity from a thorough reading of the chart. If the patient indicates one side and the chart says another the surgery should not precede without confirmation of what information is correct. Blaming the patient without having stopped to review the chart and talking with a relative will impress no one, let alone shield you from legal responsibility.
Likewise performing an incorrect procedure makes it appear the surgeon did not review the chart before starting the surgery. Any questions should be resolved first, rather than later. I carpentry they say measure twice and cut once. In surgery they should say, ask three times and cut once.
Preserving the information found on a medical service provider’s website can often be the crucial piece of evidence that becomes the deciding factor in a medical malpractice case. So go online to gather and preserve evidence. Evidence of the website being changed may be as valuable as or more valuable than if it stays static. Visit the site again and again to see if it’s changing. It may and you should know about it. ©
I promised my readers more on taking a deposition and the Eight Simple Rules© along with the One Simple Question©. Do you recall the Eight Simple Rules©? For the sake of clarity I’ll repeat them again.
Deposition Testimony Rules:
1. Tell the Truth
2. Listen to the Question
3. Make sure you understand the Question
4. If you don’t understand the Question ask for clarification.
5. Pause and think about your answer.
6. If you can answer with a “Yes” or “No”, answer with a “yes” or “no”.
7. If the answer requires more than a “yes” or “no”, keep your answer concise/brief.
8. Don’t offer any information.
Now let’s talk about the mistakes clients make during depositions and the tricks defense lawyers employ to make you slip up. The list is quite long so this will be an ongoing series. Remember I’m not sitting around all day blawgging, I do have to work.
A deponent is a person; not a disease. If you’re answering questions in a deposition then you are the deponent. A deponent is under oath, meaning they have administered an oath to you. An oath means you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As in a deposition at trial you will also be under oath. That’s important because if your answers appear different at trial than they were in the deposition the implication is that you’re not being truthful. Here is what you will hear at trial. “At the deposition your answer was different, so should I assume you were telling us the truth then or now? How can I tell when you’re telling the truth?” As you can well imagine this would be an uncomfortable situation to be in so remember the Eight Simple Rules© and learn to follow them.
Rapid Fire – Rapid fire is a questioning technique used to trip the deponent up on rules two through eight and to make your answer appear to be less than trustworthy. You will recognize this technique is in use when answering the lawyer’s questions makes you light headed or out of breath. Rapid fire is what it sounds like. The next question comes immediately after you answer the previous question. There is little time to think. The deponent starts to feel anxious, and reacts by “firing back” at the lawyer.
But what deponents have to realize is that seldom can they win this exchange. The lawyer has had weeks to prepare his/her questions. They are professionals and some, like me, have taken more than a thousand depositions. During rapid fire it won’t take long before emotions take the place of reason and the Eight Simple Rules© are forgotten. I don’t care if you “meant to tell the truth” but because of “the lawyer’s questions” you became emotional and lost your head. Follow the damn rules.
So how do you recognize this technique and how do you combat it? Well it’s pretty simple. Go back to the Eight Simple Rules© and review them. Remember, listen to the question, then make sure you understand the question, followed by if you don’t understand the question ask for clarification; and then pause and think about your answer.
Let’s stop there today because this is enough. Don’t be fooled by the question or the person asking the questions. Leave your emotions at the door. No one cares that you just want to get this over with and to be treated fairly. The lawyer employing “Rapid Fire” he isn’t here to treat you fairly, he’s here to represent his client’s interests. And if you don’t understand that point you’re making a big mistake. There are only two reasons for him/her to speak with you and neither is good for your case. You’re being asked questions so they can figure out a way to pay you nothing or less then you deserve. So read the Eight Simple Rules© and follow them.