In New York, there are many excellent and experienced medical malpractice defense lawyers. What does a defense lawyer do if a friend approaches them and tells them about a potential medical malpractice case they may have?

Because the defense lawyer represents doctors and hospitals and insurance companies, it becomes impossible for him to take on such a case personally. In that instance, he often will find an experienced medical malpractice attorney whom he trusts and has faith in in order to speak to his friend and if warranted, proceed forward with a lawsuit.

You might think it would be unethical for a defense lawyer to refer a friend or relative to an experienced plaintiff's medical malpractice trial lawyer. You might think it odd that a defense lawyer would recommend a colleague who represents injured victims for living. You might even think it was inappropriate.

However, I will share with you that it is not unethical, it is not odd, nor is it inappropriate for a defense lawyer to refer a friend or relative to a trusted attorney who they believe can do a good job in the field of medical malpractice litigation.

How cool is it when a colleague and a former adversary you have gone up against in the past picks up the telephone and asks if you'd be willing to speak to a friend or relative of theirs who may have a valid case?

In New York, an attorney who refers a medical malpractice case to another lawyer may technically be entitled to receive a referral fee if they assume responsibility for the litigation. In addition, the referring attorney is technically required to do some level of legal work in order to justify receiving a referral fee.

However, many defense lawyers who refer a potential client to another lawyer for representation often waive their fee so as not to have any conflict of interest and not to show that they are actively participating in the client's case or sharing the responsibility of the litigation.


Why do I share this information with you? Because over the course of my career I've been privileged to have colleagues and adversaries refer their friends and family members to me. Interestingly, each of the defense lawyers who have sent possible new cases to me for evaluation have always requested they receive no fee and not share in the participation of the responsibilities associated with pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

It is a humbling feeling knowing that my colleagues and adversaries have thought highly enough of what I do and how I've done it over the course of my career to entrust a friend or family member to me. Although I would like to make the names of these attorneys public, they have each asked me not to disclose their names I honor those requests.

When a colleague and a former adversary has enough confidence in your legal abilities to refer your friend or family member, it is a sure sign that you've done something right in the past that generated feelings of trust, confidence and competence.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer