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WHAT MAKES A GOOD MALPRACTICE CASE?



(The information on this site applies to Florida only)

It would be difficult to simply make a list of the types of malpractice cases that are good or bad. Each case is unique and needs to be considered on its own particular merits and facts. But there are certain issues your lawyer will have to work through before deciding if he can accept your case. Since malpractice cases are so expensive and time consuming to pursue, one of the first questions your lawyer will need to address is whether the case is economically justifiable.  A lawyer may spend as much as $50,000 to $100,000 in out-of-pocket expenses plus two to three years' time on a single malpractice case. If a potential case only involves a temporary misdiagnosis of a medical condition, and the correct diagnosis was eventually made with no significant permanent injuries, then that probably is not a good case to pursue. No lawyer would want to risk two years of his time and $75,000 of his money on the possibility that he might recover $25,000 for his client. No client would reasonably want to pursue that type of case either. Legitimate small damage malpractice claims may be inappropriate law suits because the cost to the lawyer, and the potential benefit to the client, simply do not justify a lengthy, expensive legal battle.

Assuming the damages are serious enough to justify bringing suit, the lawyer must also determine if there is liability, i.e. did the action or inaction fall below the professional standard of care. He will most likely have to hire one or more doctors as expert witnesses to testify on this issue. Usually at least one expert will be hired before the suit is filed and additional experts are often hired before the case proceeds to trial.

These experts will also help establish that the negligent conduct was the actual cause of the injuries complained of.  Sometimes this is obvious, and sometimes not.  For example, in cases involving negligent delay in the diagnosis of breast cancer, it may be easy to establish that the defendant misread a mammogram, but very hard to establish that the patient would have survived if only the cancer had been diagnosed six months earlier. Complicated medical questions arise such as what type of breast cancer was this? What size was it? What was the cancer cell doubling time? How far had it already spread when the misdiagnosis occurred? This issue of whether the alleged negligence actually caused any injury to the patient, or if so, then how much injury was caused by the negligence and how much was caused by the preexisting medical condition, is the main focus of many malpractice cases.

In Florida, lawyers are required to certify in writing at the time they file a malpractice lawsuit in court that they have made a reasonable investigation of the case and have come to a good faith belief that there is a reasonable basis to file the claim (see 766.104, F.S.).  If the judge later determines that the lawyer did not have a reasonable basis to believe the case was meritorious, the judge may enter sanctions against the lawyer, including requiring him to personally pay the attorneys' fees of the other side.  

Click here to find out if you have a good case.


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While our firm started in Orlando and its main office is there, for many years we have handled cases throughout Florida,.  To serve our clients better  we have opened additional satellite offices in several major Florida cities.   We use these offices to meet with our clients, take depositions, and as preparation rooms when we have trials in these cities.  When advantageous to you, we will also associate with other lawyers and law firms in some areas of the state to serve you better.  If we do associate with other lawyers on your case it will be at no additional attorney fees or expense to you. 

This site contains only general background information and is not intended to constitute specific legal advice or establish an attorney/client relationship.  Laws vary from state to state and are constantly changing.   If you think you may have a case you should promptly contact a lawyer in your state with experience in handling this type of case.

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