NC Tort Reform, healthcare, and Low-T Education Podcast

Will Soprano (@WillSoprano) sat down with Kim Wilson (@KimRoseWilson), our managing shareholder and talked about burning financial, health, and state-wide law issues. We’ve transcribed the Podcast in case you can’t listen to it. Please, share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

Will Soprano: This is Will Soprano here with Kim WIlson. Kim is the managing shareholder of Wilson Law, PA. Their office is located downtown Raleigh. They serve downtown Raleigh and other… What areas do you serve?

Kim Wilson: We handle cases statewide in NC and we also represent folk Nationally in the areas of Pharmaceutical and Medical Device litigation.

Will Soprano: This is our first podcast that we’re doing. It’s the first of the series and we’re going to get into the informational material you’ve already put out and some that you will be putting out going forward. Right now we’re talking about access to the court room. What does that mean to us, middle class America?

Kim Wilson: Quite simply, it means the ability of anyone who has been harmed by the negligence of another to go to court and have the opportunity to try their case with a jury of their peers. Of course, in North Carolina, access to the court room has been limited by Tort Reform.

Will Soprano: Okay, so it’s been limited which means it’s harder for an individual who’s been hurt to get their case to a court room so there can be a trial by their peers… Is that what I’m hearing?

Kim Wilson: That’s exactly right; the one thing I’ve said through my career is the one thing that makes an individual equal to a corporation in power is access to the court room. What that means is the ability to sue that corporation whether it be a small business or a billion dollar corporation. For an individual to sue that company or that healthcare provider or… or maybe just another very affluent person in the event that they have been injured by that person and there’s various ways which that happens. An individual can be hurt by a blockbuster pharmaceutical like Viox or New Fin. They can be hurt by a medical device like hip implants or heart defibrillators so it’s very important when you’re injured you have the ability to seek repress in the court. Of course the judiciary is part of the American system along with the legislative and executive branch. In North Carolina, Tort Reform has made it very difficult for the middle class American to even attain a lawyer to take their case and get to the court room.

Will Soprano: Okay, so what we’re really talking about here are obstacles that are being put in front of us. I’m kind of picturing this as a physical obstacle in front of us to get to a court room. What happens when, lets say we jump over all of the obstacles, and get to the court room. What else is Tort Reform doing that is negative… Or is hurting the singular person who might have been hurt?

Kim Wilson: Well, first of all, lets talk briefly about those obstacles: Tort Reform has blocked you or your child or loved one injured in the ER by negligence of a doctor, the doctors are now given special immunity. It’s very difficult to sue an ER doctor as opposed to a family practice doctor. So that’s one obstacle. Then, once you get to the court room, there are other obstacles once you get there: Caps on damages is the most egregious. In NC you are limited to $500,000.00 in damages; now, that’s a lot of money to all of us. But when you have a child who loses a limb, that’s not enough to make up for it. Another thing NC has in place due to Tort Reform is Bill vs. Paid:What that means is an individual could have been injured by the negligence of another whether a car wreck or by a healthcare provider… or even by a pharmaceutical company. Let’s say they have $150,000.00 in medical bills. They’re no longer allowed to present that evidence as an amount of their damages. That’s terrible. The logic is the insurance company paid for a lot of the medical bills and the person didn’t pay out of pocket. Well, the insurance company has a lean on the claim so that if the person gets a settlement, they have to turn around and pay the insurance company back. What’s worse is the doctor or corporation has an insurance company to pay for them once the verdict comes down… So the doctor or corporation is still covered and the individual is not. I hear lots of people talk about ambulance chasers and attorneys accepting payment by contingency fee and that is a very important concept because without lawyers willing to take the contingency fee, most people couldn’t afford the attorney because attorneys cost several hundred dollars an hour. The common citizen cant afford that. So it’s very important that lawyers are willing to say “You only pay me if I get a settlement or verdict”. So, lawyers accepting contingency fee, from my standpoint, the public should be aware that’s a very good thing and we want to keep that arrangement in place.

Will Soprano: So, I’m hearing a lot of money… What’s popping into my head are dollar signs. So these things that are making it difficult for middle class citizens are more financially motivated, so it’s the money that’s not allowing us to get what we need. You also mentioned contingency fee; you’re a lawyer that works off contingency fee, right?

Kim Wilson: Yes, I mean I do both… But mostly for a personal injury case, medical malpractice, pharmaceutical litigation, I work on a contingency fee. The folks I represent couldn’t afford $500.00 an hour… Heck, some couldn’t pay $100.00 an hour. So what must be understood is this gives them access to the court room that they would not otherwise have. Big corporations, doctors, lawyers, other folks, they can afford to pay hourly rates but… Just the average Joe who certainly is my client, they can’t do that. So I give them the opportunity to hire a highly competent attorney who has experience in these specific areas and they can pay me in an affordable way. So it’s disturbing when I hear that arrangement criticized. When talking about the financial burdens of NC Tort Reform, the people who wanted Tort Reform were Big Businesses and wealthy individuals. NC Tort Reform doesn’t assist the regular citizens. All you have to do is look at who’s proposing and lobbying for it to understand who it helps.

Will Soprano: In looking back, I think it’s really important because you hold education in high regard. You’re putting out informational material for the public and I’d like to talk about what you’ve already put out and what we can expect going forward.

Kim Wilson: You know, Will, one thing that was important to me when I launched this firm two years ago is that my website was going to be a source for information. If that turned into me getting clients, great, but i wanted the public… Whether you needed an attorney or not… to be able to come to my site and get information. A lot of the blogs and information on my website is really there to inform the public. For example, we did a big series on the affordable care act. I’m not taking any position as to whether I love it or hate it, it’s honestly too soon for me to tell. But I wanted to let people know it’s there and how they can access or sign up for insurance now that we have Obamacare in place. The other thing is that because of the needs of my current client base, we now have a department at Wilson Law, P.A. that does Estate Planning and Elder Law. We’ve put out a lot on important documents that every individual and family needs. Like the financial Power of Attorney or Healthcare Power of Attorney… Or how to go about getting/updating your Will. Basic information that the public needs to know and quite honestly, Lawyers are the worst when it comes to having these documents. That’s been an interesting find with putting out some of our material. Another thing I’ve done my best to write articles on is why a person injured needs to hire an attorney and why they should not talk to an insurance adjuster without an attorney on their side. Rest assured, that insurance company calling you when you’re hurt asking for a settlement, they are talking to an attorney. Probably a whole department of attorneys. So why shouldn’t you have an attorney? So we use our blog as an educational tool for the community. Coming forward, I’m going to… and have talked about… the FDA alert on testosterone therapy. I’m really big into public health and one of the cases I’m currently looking at is how testosterone therapy has injured males. There’s a lot of people out there using testosterone therapy such as Androgel. They use it for Erectile Dysfunction, to feel better, to improve their mood, etc. We’re finding people using it off-label. It’s like ‘hey, let’s give you Androgel, let’s see how you feel’– If that person has an underlying risk for cardiovascular event meaning high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc, that person is at a substantially higher risk to have an event. There have already been deaths related to testosterone therapy and there have been some serious injuries. So I’ve written about that and there will be more to come. But back to your point, our blogs will be a source of information and awareness for the public and if anyone out there has ideas or topics they would like me to investigate and write about, I would like to know.

Will Soprano: Excellent. So for those of you listening, go ahead and drop a comment down below and let us know what you’d like to hear about. Kim is taking suggestions. Thank you for your time and we’ll talk shortly!

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