Build Your Case
Times, they are a changing…….. And you have to change with the times.
I honestly do not know what is going to happen for the women who are injured by mesh implants in the future, nor for those who wake up one day and realize something is very wrong with the implant they had many years before. But I do know times are changing due to the large amount of women who filed a claim during this last round of lawsuits. Part of it is because mesh awareness is so much better than when I had my implant surgery and part of it is because unscrupulous lawsuit marketing firms decided it was a great way to make a few millions.
There are sites that have been up for five years such as Jane Akre’s Mesh Medical News Desk and Drug Watch. These sites are backed by lawyers and doctors who wish to make money from your injuries. Now I see plenty of Facebook ads rolling through my timeline and this is a faster and cheaper way to find new clients. Jane Akre also changed to doing this along with Aaron Horton, who calls herself the Mesh Warrior. No doubt there will be even more ways these people will make money from the injured as time goes along. They have a tendency to change to something new when something stops working and you can be sure they will keep doing this.
The good news is, the word is out about the problems and complications from mesh implants. The bad news is; the word is out… How you deal with yours can make a huge difference to your future if you find yourself with permanent damage and can no longer work.
Today I am writing to try to help those who have had an implant as of late and find themselves with serious side effects. Or for those who thought they were fine for many years until something changed and a health explosion happened to their busy lives. I hope what I write now will help those women.
The FDA made a statement that doctors had to properly inform women as to the dangers of mesh. But I have learned from newly implanted women exactly what is going on. Instead of handing a woman a pamphlet and giving them the true facts of the complications, they are telling women to go to the Internet and do their own research, or worse yet are telling them they should go to the AUG’s site and read. AUGS stands for The American Urogynecologic Society and I have written blogs about the president of this organization and what they believe and this worries me because they believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with these implants. I will give you blog links at the end of this blog, but the gist of it is, if your doctor tells you to go there, then they are a member and they are promoting the use of mesh slings and making a lot of money doing it. I personally would run from these doctors, because I am a truly injured woman from a bladder sling and I know what can go wrong. I also know things STILL go wrong for newly implanted women.
The FDA stated what doctors should do, but they do NOT enforce it. So women are literally on their own after they are injured. Except that they do have the option to file a product liability lawsuit. It is very rare that any woman can file suit against a doctor because they are protected by their L.L.C status. I will give you a link for that blog too. There is a rare chance you may have a medical malpractice case against a doctor, but don’t count on it. More than likely you will become part of a tort lawsuit.
I have spoken to women who are now in the throes of trying to get help after an implant in the last few months. They are struggling and feel they are out on a raft in danger of sinking. I know that feeling because that is how I felt 6 ½ years ago, which is why I want to give them the benefit of my hard earned knowledge.
I want you to think of your lawsuit and your lawyer in a different way. It is not just about signing up. You have to do the work to help your lawyer understand everything you have been through or are going through. Not bugging them with every single tiny detail, but by getting together the evidence to build your case. If you do this, then you may have a better outcome when your case is finally negotiated between your lawyer and manufacturer. Expect your case to take up to 7/8 years to resolve.
The biggest thing I fear is that during this past five years, there has been huge lessons to everyone, including the manufacturers and the lawyers. This may make it harder for you to get compensation if you are truly injured.
Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific are the two largest players in the field of implants, but others are gathering moss. Covidien was bought out by Medtronic which is another giant company. What will happen to the women who were implanted by Covidien implants, I have no idea, but it may make it much harder for them to find a lawyer. I would question any lawyer extensively before you sign up with anyone and keep searching until you get the proper information and a lawyer who will help you.
I have no idea if any lawyer will touch a case where a woman had a Caldera implant after what happened recently or what will happen to women who have AMS (American Medical Systems) implants due to the fact of Caldera lawyers and women being taken to the cleaners and the failed buyout of AMS, by Endo. Lawyers are not doing this out of generosity and they also have to make money. The filing fees alone are high, let alone gathering up your records and information. There are other companies who have lawsuits against them and you will have to learn as much as possible about how stable these companies are and where they do business. Companies like Bard, Coloplast and even more. Do your homework to learn before you sign up.
A plumber works better if you find the leak first and direct them to the source right? It is the same with a lawyer. A lawyer is only as good as the information you provide. Now let’s get this straight. I am definitely not saying you should write reams of emails to your lawyer moaning and groaning about what you are going through. In fact, that could work against you. I am suggesting that you give your lawyer facts and help to put a good case together.
Now for some helpful tips.
By now every woman should know the first place to begin is by getting her implant operating report and learning exactly what was put into her body. But that is only the beginning. You should then learn EVERYTHING about that implant and you can Google patent information or Google your mesh implant through images to learn more. It will not just pop up, it will be work and take time. I did exactly that once I found out what mine was. Ideally a woman should have been given a proper implant pamphlet, but no woman has told me that her doctor actually did this. If they had and you read the FDA instructions that ALL implant complications should be listed, you would have run like the wind and not be in this mess at all. That is why doctors are not giving them to women, nor even telling them exactly what they use. It is called lying by omission.
You should then Google all the FDA warnings about vaginal mesh and read every one of them, beginning with 2008.
BEFORE you file a case, are you truly injured? You may think “I am sure I am”, but the reason I am saying this, is because it is your job to prove it. That means you must go to a reputable doctor and get a consult report where they will state you are having serious issues and need removal surgery and then they will set a date for surgery. I did just this, and my consult report written by Dr. Raz at UCLA stated why I had pain when walking and the problems I had emptying my bladder. The bladder ultrasound they did during that consult, showed my bladder was still half full after I tried to empty it.
Reading Facebook support groups where women tell of their symptoms that kind of match yours, won’t count. Deciding you have complications without proof won’t count. Filing a lawsuit without proof is futile and you will wind up with nothing when your case is negotiated. Not only that but you will never be allowed to file a lawsuit again, if you do have complications in the future, whether or not you accept the low offer. It is over and done with once you file and to file a case this way is foolish! Many women were misled by bad lawyers in the past and they are now bitching about the poor return from their lawsuit, on support groups. However, I now know that they may as well take the offer because no lawyer will take their case to trial once you have already filed against a manufacturer and your offer was very low. This is because it takes a huge amount of money to take a case to trial and it has to reap a few millions to cover the lawyers’ fees, expenses and your compensation. Sorry, but I am here to tell the truth, not to placate or leave things out.
IF your lawyer believes you may have a case, it does not mean you do until all records are gathered and your case is filed. You should be given a stamped copy of the date and file number once it is filed. This could take up to 2 years to get everything together. So what should you do while waiting?
Begin writing a diary timeline of everything that is happening to you including trips to the E.R and make sure your lawyer knows when these things happen or happened. Keeping a diary of what you are dealing with can be helpful but not a guarantee of success with your case. There are no guarantees. I wrote a blog about keeping a diary and I will also give you that link.
I understand the need to find others like you through support groups, because the family and friends around you, just don’t get it. But don’t get obsessed by reading posts. You may not realize it but often the same women post over and over again and none of it is helpful to your case. Every woman is different and you are unique even when you may suffer some of the same symptoms. This is why your case will be a tort lawsuit, not a class action.
Don’t make stuff up! You have to prove everything that has happened and is wrong with you and you should think of this as standing in a court of law before a judge. If you are caught out in a lie, you will be seen as less credible by your lawyer and you may be dismissed by him/her when it comes to the more serious side of your injuries.
Be factual when it comes to giving your lawyers evidence. It must be something they can use to help your case. Don’t run on with daily emails about your pain and suffering. No one wants to hear it including your lawyer. If you want to write about it, keep it in a file for your children to read when you are gone.
Do checkup periodically if many months go by and you don’t know if your case has been filed. Don’t badger. Send short and factual emails to someone in your lawyer’s office to get the answer. They won’t know anything for a long time because gathering records takes a very long time and they must be gathered by your lawyer even if you gave them your copies. Read this.
Proving accuracy of medical records is important in trial
Subpoenaing medical records is the first step in maintaining chain of custody. Since many hospitals keep medical records online, it is easier to alter the data electronically. Also, when a lawyer uses the patient’s medical records in court there is no way of proving that the records are accurate.
You still need to get your records so that you can learn what happened to you and you can then put words you don’t understand into Google and then decipher to get the gist of your surgery and learn why your life has changed. This will also help you find a lawyer to take your case. Don’t be surprised if many things that happened are not included in your doctors notes during office visits. When things go wrong, many implanting doctors will pretend it never happened and everything is normal. This is why you need a good and honest doctor to diagnose your injuries this will help your lawyer do the best job possible.
If you do file a lawsuit against a manufacturer but you are not going to pursue full removal, then this could arise that Medicare, Medicaid, the VA or an insurance company could hold back part of your money once your case settles, because they want to claim against future surgeries you have involving your implant. This is something you need to get answered before filing and if your lawyer is very vague about it, make sure you get this down before you sign up. I do not know how long they can hold back your funds against future removal surgeries but be assured that this is quite legal.
If you file a lawsuit, make every determination to get the help you need and have the entire implant removed. You may have heard things like the ‘more surgeries you have, can mean more money for you’. You must understand that every partial removal surgery can leave bad results to your tissues and organs and not only that but your insurance etc. has a right to take money back from every one of these surgeries so they do not necessarily make you a lot more money. You will be far better off physically and mentally to have as few surgeries as possible. Believe me the PTSD from these surgeries alone can be HELL!
Lawsuit loans. I hate to say this but good women have fallen into that trap and the sad part is the only people who will gain from the outcome of your lawsuit are the loan companies. I do feel that they too have learned something from all these lawsuits including the fact that these cases are not going to bring women huge windfalls. So it may be harder to take a loan against your case, but that does not mean impossible. Don’t do it unless you are truly out of options, because they will win and take your money and you will reap very little by the time your case settles.
Knowledge is power…… I have always believed this and I spend many hours learning about things when I need to and you have to do the same. Your lawyer will do their part but only what you give them as evidence. If you don’t have evidence, do not expect great results.
Because it takes years to resolve these cases, you can do a final update letter on your condition after your surgeries are over which you can ask to be used during negotiations. This should be after all surgeries are finished if possible, and if you have had to file disability and lost your job or career, you need to inform them of all the changes to your life.
If you have a provable medical condition that will not allow you to have removal surgery, then my advice is that you go for a consult at UCLA and get a written report on your mesh implant status along with proving your extreme health issue. Believe me, there are very few cases that UCLA has not taken on and the women who were very ill are now living a better life, mesh free. The UCLA surgeons will take all possible precautions for your surgery and health issues. Without this, your case result may be much lower than you think.
Last but not least, if you have or had family members who loaned you money to help you travel for removal surgeries, once you receive your settlement, please pay the money back. Do not try to get out of doing so because they helped you through a very bad time and they deserve to be repaid. If a woman who you met through a support group, helped you when you went out to California, because they lived in that State, please send them a small gesture of gratuity such as a little keepsake, as a thank you. Everyone knows no one is getting rich out of this, but a thank you gesture is always wonderfully accepted by any woman who has given time and money to your cause.
DO NOT think of signing up with a lawsuit as a lottery. Believe me women who did think this way are already finding out the truth. If anyone you are close to is viewing your settlement as a way to get a new car or truck, set them straight. This is for YOUR FUTURE CARE.
Like I said no matter what you do to help your case, there are no guarantees of a big settlement regardless of your severe injuries. You cannot expect anyone else to do this for you and do a good job. Only you understand completely what you have been through and your end results.
Now to give you links to learn.
Keeping records of your journey is a very important thing to do. http://www.meshangels.com/document-your-mesh-journey/
Borrowing from your lawsuit is not a good idea. Read this. http://www.meshangels.com/borrowing-from-your-lawsuit/
This will help you understand about cases that went to trial and a whole lot more. http://www.meshangels.com/how-much-will-you-get-from-a-lawsuit/
This will tell you about AUGS and will lead you to another blog about the president of this organization. http://www.meshangels.com/the-future-of-mesh-implants/
This will take you to a number of blogs about the UCLA journey to have your implant removed. http://www.meshangels.com/the-ucla-journey/
This blog will give you insight to the FDA’s warnings, but it is very wise to read them all. http://www.meshangels.com/the-fda-injured-women/