Diverse Experience – Trusted Counsel

Medical Malpractice Litigation

Since our firm’s inception in 1983, Thomson, Rhodes & Cowie, P.C., has maintained as an important part of its practice the defense of physicians, hospitals and managed care organizations in professional and general liability litigation. We have successfully represented health care providers throughout western Pennsylvania. Each of our senior attorneys have handled catastrophic-type claims as well as many of the more routine medical malpractice lawsuits. Along with a solid reputation for our work in this area, we have developed strong and helpful working relationships with physicians, hospital administrators, risk managers and claims personnel. These partnerships have yielded excellent results.

Each of our senior attorneys who are assigned professional negligence cases has approximately 20 years of experience in this special area.

Our depth of experience enables us to effectively communicate with physicians and other health care providers, earning the trust and respect necessary to successfully defend their interests. It also facilitates candid appraisals of the strengths and weaknesses of each case in a way that our clients can understand.

Our attorneys have established strong working relationships with the health care community throughout Pennsylvania, and we have worked with local outside experts in almost every medical specialty. Our resources enable us to accommodate a client’s desire to utilize nationally recognized experts where warranted.

We view each case as one that may eventually go to trial and, therefore, give careful attention to structuring the best possible defense. Realizing the importance of every detail – from well-crafted pleadings to fully prepared witnesses at the time of depositions – our attorneys take every step necessary to position our medical malpractice clients for a strong and convincing defense at trial.

Our approach to defending lawsuits has proven to be valuable, even in the cases destined for settlement. The ability to resolve a case at an acceptable monetary level depends upon the extent to which plaintiffs’ attorneys view defendants as prepared to go to trial and perceive their lawyers as competent. Often, cases settle – and, in some cases, a particular party even is voluntarily dismissed from a case – if the defense attorney is viewed as a particularly effective trial lawyer.

In a close case, preparation and experience often mean the difference between winning and losing, and we believe the expertise of our lawyers affords our clients a decided edge in the courtroom.

The three most important measures of a law firm’s performance are results, cost-effectiveness and overall client satisfaction. One recent self-evaluation revealed that, in a five-year period for a cluster of three long-standing health care clients, we closed 63 cases, 41 (65%) of which were concluded by defense verdict, summary judgment or discontinuance without any payment being made on behalf of our clients. Of the remaining 22 cases, 12 required settlement payments of $40,000 or less. There were no verdicts for the plaintiffs. While all cases have not been similarly surveyed, we believe that these results are representative and illustrative of the firm’s success in defending medical malpractice claims.

To ensure overall client satisfaction, our attorneys maintain frequent and close communication with our clients’ legal and risk management departments as well as with individual defendant physicians and nurses, keeping them informed of significant developments. We respond promptly to client inquiries and work cooperatively with other members of the defense team. We also serve as presenters for in-service staff training programs.

Each case is assigned to a senior litigation attorney for overall supervision and handling. Assignments are made subject to client approval, and we honor a client’s request for assignment of a given case to a specific attorney.

Our goal is to determine the defensibility and damage exposure of each case as expeditiously as possible so that a client can make an informed decision regarding trial or settlement. In medical malpractice matters, it is our practice to keep our clients and their insurers informed of all significant developments. The senior litigation attorney remains the primary contact throughout the handling of the case.

Our associates handle routine pleadings, nonessential depositions, hearings on non-dispositive motions and similar matters on a given case under the supervision of the senior litigation attorney. Typically, only one associate assists the senior litigation attorney on a given case. Only one attorney attends a hearing or deposition, unless it is for the purpose of training a new associate. In such cases, a client is not billed for the new associate’s time.

Our paralegals are used to organize, index and summarize medical records, obtain records from other treating physicians and institutions, provide litigation support during all phases of a case and assist in the preparation of trial exhibits.