Reasons a Lawyer Rejects a Medical Malpractice Case
What is Wrong With My Case?!
You are a good person. You are telling the truth. You are not in it for the money, and you know the healthcare provider in your case was negligent. So why is it so difficult to find a lawyer to take on your medical malpractice case? The answer likely lies in a little known political movement, called tort reform. Tort reform of medical malpractice litigation has made it very expensive and time consuming to pursue a medical malpractice case.
Our Firm Rejects Most Potential Medical Malpractice Cases We Intake
Senior Justice Law Firm turns down the vast majority of potential medical malpractice claims we receive. Sounds like a bad business plan right? In reality, our Florida medical malpractice lawyers must be ultra selective in the cases we accept. Here’s why:
Medical Malpractice Cases Are Prohibitively Expensive for Attorneys to Pursue
I See Billboards Everywhere for Car Accidents! Why Will No Lawyer Touch My Medical Malpractice Case?
Medical malpractice cases are not like general personal injury lawsuits. For example, if a person is hit by a car while crossing Woolbright Road, they have a viable Boynton Beach personal injury lawsuit. Even if they largely recover from the injury, most lawyers would accept their case. There are no barriers to filing the lawsuit, no expert review is required and the case costs are low.
Conversely, let’s look at a comparable medical malpractice claim. If a person is wrongfully injured through medical negligence at Boca Regional, they would have a viable Boca Raton medical malpractice lawsuit. Assuming they do not die from the incident and make a significant recovery, most medical malpractice lawyers will not accept their case.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers Face Tough Hurdles Before Filing the Lawsuit
So what is the difference between a general personal injury case and a medical malpractice case? As a result of tort reform, in the medical malpractice case example, before filing the initial Complaint in the lawsuit, the lawyer must:
- obtain all the patient’s medical records
- have the voluminous medical records reviewed by an expert (usually a doctor) at rates that average $750/hour to $1,000/hour
- have the expert sign an affidavit, swearing that the records show that the provider was negligent
- prepare a notice of intent to initiate litigation, send this package to all prospective defendants, then await response
- engage in a 90 day presuit investigatory period with discovery exchange
All the above prerequisites result in extensive costs. Once you jump through these hurdles, litigating medical malpractice cases is also quite expensive due to the heavy expert witness requirements. Typically, a Florida medical malpractice case costs upwards of $100,000 in costs alone. This does not include any compensation to the plaintiff or the lawyer.
As a comparison, trying a general personal injury case is a fraction of these costs.
You Must Have Catastrophic Damages to Cover the Costs and Have a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Accept Your Case
The takeaway message is that medical malpractice lawsuits are incredibly expensive. In contingent fee litigation (no win, no fees or costs), your lawyer bears these costs initially. However, these costs will come out of any judgment or settlement you receive. This creates a problem if you do not have catastrophic damages. If your medical malpractice case is worth $200,000 gross settlement value, your attorneys fees would be $80,000 (40%). If your costs are $100,000 and you have $50,000 in related medical bills, you will walk away with nothing. This is the number one reason why people have such a hard time finding a medical malpractice lawyer to accept their case. In this scenario, the would-be plaintiff would have a difficult time finding a medical malpractice lawyer to take on their case.
Medical Malpractice Jury Verdicts Are Overwhelmingly in Favor of the Defense
Another issue associated with medical malpractice cases is the statistics on jury verdicts. A quick google search will reveal numerous multi-million dollar jury verdicts in favor of the aggrieved plaintiff. What you will not see online is how many times the hospital, doctor or nurse wins. This is called a medical malpractice defense verdict. For medical malpractice claims that are decided by a jury, 77% of verdicts are in favor of the medical provider. (Robert C. LaFountain and Cynthia G. Lee, Medical Malpractice Litigation in State Courts (April 2011) at 4. U.S. Department of Justice, supra at 4). This means that the plaintiff is awarded $0.
Medical Malpractice Caps on Damages
Lastly, many states suffer under arbitrary ‘caps on damages’ in medical malpractice litigation. For example, Texas has caps on damages for med mal lawsuits. This means, it does not matter what a jury awards you, the judge will reduce it after the verdict to comply with the caps on damages. The Austin American Statesman reported on the dramatic decline in med mal cases and payouts since the state capped damages in 2003.
Specifically, “medical malpractice claims, including lawsuits, resolved in a year fell by nearly two-thirds between 2003 and 2011 to 450. The average payout declined 22 percent to about $199,000.”
A federal bill has passed the House of Representatives and is currently circulating around the Senate capping non-economic damages in medical liability cases at $250,000.
So, How Can I Get a Lawyer to Take My Medical Malpractice Case?
The point of this article is to explain why lawyers regularly reject medical malpractice claims. Do not take it personally. It is not you. It is not that we don’t believe in your case. It is not that we are afraid of a good fight. It is the reality that we cannot put any money in your pocket on smaller damage or tougher liability med mal cases.
The unfortunate reality is that, in this post-tort reform world, we limit our medical malpractice cases to wrongful death lawsuits and catastrophic injury cases (brain bleeds, traumatic brain injury, paraplegia, etc.)
Put Your Best Foot Forward: Be Prepared
Do not lose hope. We have rejected many medical malpractice cases that our colleagues have successfully won. Likewise, we have recovered millions of dollars on med mal cases that we turned down by other law firm.
Keep trying lawyers. Make it easy for the lawyer to review the file. Gather all your records and bring these to the lawyer consultation. Highlight where you think the negligence is in the records. Let us know why you feel you have a meritorious case. If you are seeking the help of a wrongful death attorney, be sure to gather the death certificate which lists the cause of death.
Do Not Take the Rejection Personally
Your med mal case will likely be turned down by a lawyer. Do not give up. Remember that your case is subject to a strict statute of limitations period, so do not delay in seeking new counsel.
If you’d like to chat with our lawyers about a potential medical liability case, call us today for your free case evaluation: 1-844-253-8919.« Previous PostNext Post »