People tend to put a lot of trust in doctors and other medical providers and it can often be very shocking when they make major mistakes or provide negligent care. When you feel like you’ve been the victim of medical negligence or some type of mistake by a healthcare professional its only natural to want to take action. This typically means suing the doctor for medical malpractice. Many people who find themselves in this situation end up getting very frustrated when they can’t seem to find any medical malpractice lawyer willing to take their case.
Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers field hundred of inquiries from prospective medical malpractice clients each month. Like most malpractice firms, we end up turning away a large percentage of these. On this page, we will look at the top four most common reasons that we end up turning down a potential medical malpractice case.
Malpractice Occurred but No Harm Resulted
A common reason that prompts us to reject potential cases is where the is evidence that medical malpractice may have occurred, but the malpractice did not really cause any physical injury to the patient. These are sometimes referred to as “no harm no foul” cases.
You can’t sue a doctor simply because they were medically negligent or made a major mistake in your treatment. To have a valid medical malpractice case you need to show that your doctor (or other healthcare provider) was medically negligent AND that negligence directly resulted in some type of physical injury or harm. Keep in mind that emotional injury is NOT enough. The doctor’s negligent care or treatment must directly cause some physical harm to the patient. Physical harm can include obvious things like losing a limb or having the wrong organ removed. It can also include less obvious things such as making a patient’s condition worse, delaying treatment that would have made the patient better, necessitating additional medical procedures or treatment, and causing additional complications.
You Have a Valid Case But it Has Little Value
This is probably the most common reason that we decline potential cases and it is often the most frustrating and difficult reason for people to accept. Even if you have a totally valid claim for medical malpractice (the doctor was negligent and it resulted in physical harm), a malpractice lawyer may still have to turn your case down if it has a very low potential settlement value.
It may seem callous or greedy to hear that lawyers won’t take your case because it’s not worth enough money. But this is simply the reality of the sad medical malpractice economics at work. Medical malpractice lawsuits are unique because they are very expensive to bring. If you want to sue a doctor, you need to retain other doctors to serve as expert witnesses in support of your case. This can be astronomically expensive. A typical malpractice case with 3-4 experts can easily cost over $100,000 just in expert witness fees. It shouldn’t be this way. But it is.
This means each malpractice case we take on is a significant financial investment. We have to make sure that the case has enough potential value to cover the cost of bringing it. Unfortunately, the cost of bringing a medical malpractice case is just a high even when the case has a lower potential value. Lawyers can’t afford to invest $75,000 in a malpractice case that only has a value of $100,000.
Low Chance of Success
Sometimes we may decide to turn down a medical malpractice (even a high-value case) because we feel like the chances of ultimately winning the case are very low. This is far less common than the first two reasons, but it still happens. Most medical malpractice cases settle out of court, but some cases do go to trial. Medical malpractice cases can be very difficult to win at trial, especially in certain jurisdictions. We aren’t afraid of taking cases to trial (and we have a great record of success with that) but we might decide to turn a case down if we feel like our chances of winning at trial are very low.
We Can’t Get an Expert to Support Your Case
To file any medical malpractice case in Maryland (and most other jurisdictions) a plaintiff is required to get a “certificate of merit” from a qualified expert witness (another doctor). The certificate of merit must state that the other doctor has reviewed the case and medical records and that in his or her opinion the defendants were negligent. Whenever we accept a new case one of the first things we do is send it out to an expert for review and opinion. Sometimes they come back to us and say that they don’t think the doctor(s) involved in the case did anything wrong. This happens more often than you would think and it usually prompts us to terminate our representation. In some situations, we will go out and get a second opinion from a different expert. If a second expert agrees that there is no evidence of malpractice, we will definitely decline the case.
Contact Miller & Zois About Your Medical Malpractice Case
If you have been turned down by one of more medical malpractice firms don’t give up. We would still like to hear from you and make our own determination on whether you have a valid case that we would be willing to bring. Call us today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation.