L E G AL___ H E L P


For those of you as naive as I was, you will be surprised to find that legal help may be hard to find in a medical malpractice case even if the case has merit. The reason has little to do with merit and lots to do with the bottom line, namely money. Most legal firms that advertise medical malpractice as a specialty provide their services for a percentage of the settlement. They also bear the "up front" expense of bringing the suit to trial. Before they will accept an assignment under those circumstances, they will look at it from an economic perspective. They have to believe they can win of course, but there is another important consideration, namely the projected settlement amount. The following is typical of conversations I had with several legal firms specializing in medical malpractice shortly after my mother's death, beginning with their response to my brief synopsis of my mother's case.



How old was your mother?


Was she employed?

Are you kidding?




Actually they didn't just hang up. They politely declined interest in handling the case, and then hung up. I recently ran into a former co-worker who had a terrible time with knee surgery few years ago. He informed me he thought he had justification for a medical malpractice suit, and telephoned one of the local legal firms in the area in which he lives to test the waters, so to speak. He said that as soon as the representative found out he planned to retire in less than 2 years, he was told the firm would not likely be able to handle his case. I am not knocking lawyers here. The situation is perfectly logical. It's just that we must understand that merit is not the only consideration in a medical malpractice case. If there is a meritorious malpractice case involving death or injury of a young person with a good earnings potential, legal help should not be hard to find. However, the older and the lower the economic earnings potential of the victim, the less likely legal help will be forthcoming. Harsh, but true. If you decide to proceed with the case anyway, you may have to bear the total cost of bringing the case to trial on your own.


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