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How Does a Lawyer Know if You REALLY Have a GOOD CASE?

This question seems simple, right?

It should seem obvious.

It's obvious to you.

You know in your heart of hearts that your doctor was careless.

How else did you wind up in inpatient rehab for three weeks after your 'routine' surgery?

You know in your heart of hearts that the only reason you suffered these injuries was because of something your doctor did wrong.

You also believe that your injuries are permanent.

After a few months, you realize you're going to have to sue your doctor.

For your injuries.

To obtain money as a form of compensation.

For all the harms, losses and damages you incurred.

You feel it.

You know he's responsible.

Your spouse knows it.

Your kids know it.

Your relatives now know it.

Your best friend knows it.

So...

You begin your search for the best attorney in New York who can help solve your legal problem.

You're looking to sue your doctor.

For medical malpractice.

For being careless.

You decide to interview three different lawyers before choosing one of them.

Two are in Manhattan.

One is on Long Island.

The first two lawyers meet you in your home.

They listen to your story.

They sympathize with you.

They express their understanding of what you went through.

Both tell you they have experience representing people like you.

They've had success stories with cases just like yours.

But then you ask these two lawyers whether you have a good case.

They hesitate.

They give you "Uh...umm...well...maybe...but..."

They don't sound very confident.

You tell them you'll get back to them.

The third lawyer you meet in his office.

It's a hassle for you to get there, but you decide it's worth it.

This lawyer listens to you.

For an entire hour.

He hears what you're saying.

He lets you talk most of the time, interrupting periodically with short questions.

The more you talk, the more you like this attorney.

He hasn't said very much, but you like that.

He comes highly recommended.

After listening patiently for a solid hour, this attorney starts to speak.

He tells you that you have a great case.

He says it's obvious your doctor was careless.

He tells you exactly what you want to hear.

He confirms your beliefs.

He confirms that you have a valid case...

Well, almost.

He didn't really say all that.

That's what you heard.

That's how you interpreted his words.

What he said was different than what you heard.

He said "It sounds like you have a good case."

You interpreted that to mean that he felt you have a strong case.

He said "It sounds like your doctor was careless."

He said "It seems as if his carelessness caused you injury."

You interpreted that to mean that you have a great case and this attorney wants to take your case.

Well...not exactly.

What this lawyer really told you was that he sympathized with what happened to you.

He told you that in New York every medical malpractice matter must be reviewed and evaluated by a medical expert.

The medical expert must evaluate all of your records to determine whether your doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.

He must also determine whether his carelessness was a cause of your injury.

He must also decide whether your injury is significant or permanent.

Only after an expert confirms each of those things are we permitted to go forward with a lawsuit on your behalf.

What you did not realize when you met with the first two attorneys, is that they had been telling you the same exact thing.

You just didn't 'hear' what they were saying.

They weren't telling you what you wanted to hear.

You didn't hear the magic words of "You have a great case!"

You didn't hear them say "You're going to win!"

So, you tuned out what they were saying and focused on what they were not saying.

You incorrectly assumed they were not confident.

You incorrectly decided that those attorneys were not for you.

This third lawyer hit all the right notes.

He said all the right things.

At least you thought he did.

But here's what he really said...

He said it 'sounded' like you had a good case.

It 'sounded' as if your doctor was careless.

It 'sounded' as if his carelessness was a cause of your injury.

And, it certainly sounded as if your injury was permanent and significant.

Then...you tuned out the rest of the explanation.

You see, this third lawyer told you that he has absolutely no way of knowing if your case has merit just based on your first consultation with him.

None.

There's no possible way he can tell...yet.

He has only your version of the events to judge the potential of your case at that moment.

No attorney in New York can ever decide whether your medical malpractice matter has merit just based on an initial consultation.

It's impossible, even it your matter is totally clear cut.

Here's why...

The only way an attorney will know if you have a good case is to first obtain ALL of your medical records.

All relevant records.

Not just the ones you want to give him.

Not just the copies you obtained from one or two of your doctors.

Not just the discharge papers from the hospital.

But ALL of your relevant records going back years.

It takes time to acquire all those records.

There are expenses to get all your records.

Copying costs to start.

Then, as your records come in, your lawyer MUST read each and every page of every single record.

Then, when he has accumulated ALL of your records, he MUST then send them out to a qualified medical expert to review.

These cases are different than car accident cases or other injury cases.

In those cases, we do NOT need a medical expert to confirm we have a valid case.

However, in every medical malpractice case in New York, we MUST have an expert confirm you have a good case.

Sending your records out to an expert and having him review it takes time.

It could take weeks or months.

Once the expert has finished his evaluation, he must speak with your attorney.

Here's what an attorney MUST learn from your doctor to determine if you have a good case...

  1. Did your doctor violate the basic standards of medical care? If no, you have no case.

  2. If yes, was your doctors' carelessness a cause of your injury? If no, you have no case.

  3. Are your injuries significant or permanent?

If the answers to each question is "Yes," then you have a basis for a case.

However, it does NOT mean that every attorney will take your case EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE A VALID AND CONFIRMED CASE!

Let me say that again.

Just because an expert has confirmed you have a valid case does not mean that your attorney will accept your case to prosecute.

Why not?

Because there are many other factors that go into deciding whether an attorney will accept you as a client.

Let me tell you what I mean.

When you meet with an attorney for the first time, you are deciding whether you will hire him to handle your case.

You will find that the best trial lawyers in NY are also deciding during that meeting whether they will agree to accept you as a client.

You see, not every case is right for every attorney.

Likewise, not every client is right for every attorney.

The best lawyers are choosy.

The best attorneys pick and choose which clients and which cases they will accept.

Maybe your damages are not as significant and what your lawyer typially handles.

Maybe there are some legal problems with your case that makes it much more difficult than what your attorney would like to handle.

Maybe you are nasty and obnoxious and refuse to listen to your lawyers' advice.

There could be many reasons why an attorney would decline to handle your matter, even after his medical expert has confirmed you have a valid case.

But let's go back to the title of this article.

How does an attorney know that YOU have a GOOD case?

The answer is by meeting with you.

The answer is by getting your medical records.

The answer is my reviewing your records.

The answer is by having a medical expert review your records.

Only then do we know for sure whether you have a valid case.

If our medical expert confirms you have a good case, does it mean you'll win at trial?

The reality is no, it doesn't.

But, it gets us in the courthouse door, assuming of course your lawyer wants to accept you as a client.

To learn whether the opposing expert will turn to a quivering blob of Jello when being cross examined by your attorney, I invite you to watch the quick video below...

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer