Medical mistakes are all too common. And sometimes, the results can be devastating. If you’ve been hurt at the hands of your doctor, you might understandably wonder if you can sue for medical malpractice. Perhaps your friends or family have even urged you, sayings things like “you have a slam dunk case.”
So, you might be taken off guard if the personal injury lawyer you’ve met with declines taking your case. Why might this happen? And is there anything you can do about it?
Here are a few of the most common reasons why a personal injury lawyer might not take on your case.
1. Your injuries weren’t serious. First, you should know that a medical malpractice case is very expensive. Most injury lawyers will cover this expense upfront, with you agreeing to pay them a percentage of your settlement. In other words, the lawyer accepts a fair amount of risk. The potential value of your settlement is often closely tied to your medical expenses and impact of the injuries you experienced. If these were not substantial, it might not make financial sense to pursue legal action.
2. You weren’t injured at all. Sometimes, a mistake has made that “could have” had devastating consequences but didn’t. For instance, suppose you were prescribed the wrong medication for your illness. However, you noticed the error before ingesting. While this error would be upsetting or inconvenient, this would not rise to the level of a malpractice claim.
3. Lack of lawyer resources. It’s possible that you have a worthy case, but the lawyer you spoke with has a full caseload. Medical malpractice cases involve significant time and effort. In this situation, you could consider calling another local malpractice lawyer.
4. Conflict of interest. Another reason a lawyer might decline to accept your case is due to a conflict of interest. This could mean they are representing someone involved with your situation. Or perhaps they have personal or professional connections to the doctor you’re accusing.
5. Statute of limitations has passed. There is a relatively short window of time to file an injury claim. This window is called the “statute of limitations.” Except for rare circumstances, once this deadline has passed, you are barred from filing a claim.
Of course, the best way to know for sure why a lawyer has declined to accept your case is to ask them why. If their reasoning has more to do with a conflict of interest or current caseload, it may be in your interest to reach out to another medical malpractice lawyer in your area.
But what if you can’t find a lawyer to take your case? That doesn’t mean you weren’t harmed, or that what happened to you was OK. You may want to file a complaint with the doctor, hospital, or health care provider directly.