The first time I speak to any medical malpractice client, we always go over the facts of their case and sometimes discuss medical malpractice law as well.
At the end of the conference, if we decide to take the case, the clients always have 3 questions:
- “Do I have a good case?”;
- “How much money do you think we might recover? ”; and
- “ How long will this take?”
The answers to these questions at the very beginning of any medical malpractice case are the same:
I honestly don’t know. Nobody does.
Obviously I wouldn’t take a case if I didn’t think there was a good chance of proving medical malpractice. After handling medical malpractice cases for over 30 years, I have a pretty good idea of what is and what is not a of case medical malpractice.
The problem is that at the conclusion of the Initial interview with my client, I don’t have enough information to really know if malpractice has occurred. To accurately answer that question , I would need to thoroughly review all of the medical records, discuss the case with one or more medical experts, and then hear what the defendant doctor’s side of the story is.
Sometimes what looks to be a good medical malpractice case at the beginning turns out to be a case where the doctors and nurses did nothing wrong at all.
The same is true for determining what a case might be worth. The answer to that question depends on so many factors that giving an accurate answer is impossible until much later on in the lawsuit. The evaluation of what a case is worth depends on not only the facts of the case, on all of the witnesses in the case, and many times where the case is going to be tried.
It is no secret that in some jurisdictions the jurors are much more likely to excuse medical malpractice by a local physician than others. In fact, there are counties in Texas and Arkansas that have never had a jury verdict against a doctor in a medical malpractice case. No matter how bad the malpractice is, in jurisdictions like this, it is unlikely that the plaintiff will win.
And finally, the question of “ how long will this take?” depends on many factors outside of any lawyer’s control. As general rule, medical malpractice cases are much more complicated and take much more time than a simple car accident case. A good rule of thumb is that a medical malpractice case in either Texas or Arkansas will take approximately 2 years from start to finish. But we have had cases take six years, and we have had cases take six months.
Medical malpractice cases are much more complicated and difficult to prosecute than other cases, and require expertise that very few lawyers have. Part of what makes them unique is that the answer to the question “is this a good case?” may be difficult or impossible to answer at the outset. That is why you should only take your case to lawyers who are experienced in handling medical malpractice cases. If not us, find somebody like us. Experience makes all the difference in medical malpractice litigation.