Some of you may be old enough to remember how people felt about Firemen and Policemen after 9/11. They were national heroes, rightfully so. People were saying “thank you” whenever they saw these heroes in person. Families were writing them personal letters or baking them chocolate chip cookies, even if they had nothing to do with responding to the events that occurred on 9/11. They were honored by politicians, athletes, the news media, and everyone you knew. They were true heroes!!!
The same is now being said of healthcare workers because of their frontline role in the pandemic. There are billboards, television commercials and even plaintiff attorneys, who specialize in suing healthcare workers and hospitals, running advertisements thanking our frontline workers. Everyone has been touched by a healthcare worker over the past year in some form or fashion. Unlike 9/11, the pandemic has had a direct impact on every healthcare worker in an unimaginable way.
What does all of this mean for claims and lawsuits going forward? It is believed that jurors and Judges are likely to view healthcare providers, who happen to be defendants in lawsuits, in a more favorable light because they have played such a critical role in the pandemic. This impression could result in more favorable verdicts, even if a healthcare provider is found negligent. Plaintiff attorneys are also likely to be hesitant to take cases to trial against healthcare providers due to the “Halo Effect”, resulting in more favorable settlements. They will arguably be more hesitant to file suit against a healthcare provider due to the elevated status of these workers. Medical malpractice cases are very expensive to prepare for plaintiff attorneys. The “Halo Effect” will make them be even more careful in picking and choosing the ones to file.
How long it will last is anyone’s guess. Defense attorneys will certainly argue the “Halo Effect” as often as possible during the life of a case. Healthcare Workers deserve at least that for their role in working to protect us all over this past year.
Article Contributed by Inspirien’s VP of Legal Operations, Bill McGowin.