Have you ever wondered why a law firm wouldn’t take on your slip-and-fall case, or your medical malpractice case? It may not be because you have a “bad case.” It may be because the case does not make economical sense. In other words, the amount you may recover may not justify the time and expense required to make the recovery. Slip and Falls and medical malpractice cases (Med-Mals) have one thing in common; they are usually fought very hard by the defendants, even when they are in the wrong. This means that these cases cost more money and take more time to pursue than most car wrecks. Almost all of these cases have to go to trial, if you want a fair recovery. The typical case will take 3 years to get to trial and usually requires a $50,000 minimum investment up front in expenses before you get to trial. For example, fees would include:
- Medical review panel- for Med-Mals
- Liability Experts.
- Legal Research
- Medical expert witness testimony, at a cost of approximately $5,000.
There is also a greater chance of losing these cases at trial because of negative public perception against Med-Mals and Slip and Falls. An attorney has to weigh all of these risks up front, before taking on a case. It would not make any sense to put a client through the stress of a lawsuit for 3 years and come out with next to nothing. Take this example: You fall down or are injured by a doctor. Your damages are $100,000, which is a significant sum. You win your case after three years of litigation and a jury trial. By this time, your medical bills and expenses are $50,000. Your attorney fee is 40%, or $40,000, which is standard for Med-Mals and Slip and Falls. Now you only have $10,000 left and if you do not get 100% fault on the defendant, you will not even have that. Is $10,000 worth three years of being involved in a lawsuit? Probably not. Here is another real world example we came across recently. An eye doctor was advertising $4,000 for an eye surgery, and he guaranteed that if he didn’t get it right the first time, the second surgery would be free of charge. A patient paid for the first surgery and it didn’t come out right. He returned to the eye doctor, who steadfastly refused to perform the second surgery for free and honor his agreement, despite his guarantee. Unfortunately, the patient had no case, even though he had been plainly cheated. Now, let’s review the financials for a case like this botched eye surgery. The second surgery cost $4,000. The patient would have to spend a minimum of $10,000 in legal fees to get a final judgment of $10,000 ($4,000 for the surgery and $6,000 for his trouble). The attorney collects $4,000 for two years of his time, which means the lawyer will not be in business very long. The other $6,000 is used to pay for expenses and court costs. The patient would still not have enough money for his surgery and might even owe money to someone. Med-Mals are even worse that Slip and Falls for a few reasons. A doctor in Louisiana is only liable for $100,000 of your claim and that is always covered by insurance and so are the attorney fees. (Anything above $100,000 is covered by the Louisiana Patient Compensation Fund). If the doctor admits he or she is wrong, their premiums will increase. Since their insurance company provides a free attorney, why would they ever admit wrongdoing? They won’t. They will fight until the end. Next, you have to go before a medical review panel before you file in Court. – A medical review panel is made up of three doctors. In 9 out of 10 good cases, the panel will say “No negligence.” When you walk into Court, the deck is stacked against you. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that unless your potential Slip and Fall or Med-Mal case is significant — worth over $100,000 — you will be hard pressed to find a law firm who will pursue it. If you have further questions about this blog post or other legal matters, we welcome the opportunity to answer them for you. Please feel free to contact us toll-free at (866) 281-4774