Every law firm has a unique philosophy that guides them in their decision to represent a plaintiff or plaintiff’s estate. With that in mind, if a case is turned down, it is always for a good reason that applies to that particular firm. Most attorneys want to clearly explain reasons for denial in layman’s terms with the potential client. No firm wants to be sued for professional negligence, so part of the explanation will emphasize that the plaintiff or family are free to seek a second legal opinion.
If you are asked to review medical records so that the attorney can determine the merits of a potential case, keep these points in mind:
- The medical facts were not compelling during the initial review, or perhaps were not “facts”.
- The firm does not handle this type of case – be certain you have a good understanding of the firm’s preferred specialty area
- The case has merit but will require more money and resources than the firm can apportion
- The firm handles high value cases referred to them by smaller firms who find merit, but cannot afford the cost of experts, records, depositions, etc.
- The medical injury is a high-risk surgery or other event with known complications that are difficult to define as negligent
- The permanent damages are minimal – the patient feels that past expenses support the severity of damages but in truth, future loss and costs determine the ultimate value
Know the firm’s philosophy, preferred type of work, tolerance for financial risk, and most importantly, the attorney’s first-brush legal opinion of the case. That opinion, more often than not, is accurate.