The main reason a case is not accepted for investigation, or is declined after investigation, has to do with the business model of contingency fees. Medical malpractice lawyers who represent patients work on a contingency fee. That means the lawyers and law firms do not charge by the hour, and do not expect the clients to pay for the costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of their case.
Instead, the law firm only receives a fee on cases that resolve in the client’s favor. Furthermore, because clients with unsuccessful cases are not expected to repay the firm for case expenses, those cases not only fail to earn a fee, but also result in a financial loss to the firm.
The costs associated with the investigation of a medical malpractice case are usually between $5,000 and $15,000. If the investigation results in the case being filed, the costs to prosecute the case is usually between $30,000 and $100,000. If the case can not be settled, it will proceed to trial. Trial of a medical malpractice case can cost an additional $20,000 to $50,000. These amounts do not represent legal fees. They are not the amount of money being paid to the lawyers working on your case. They are the expenses that must be incurred to properly handle your case. They include the cost of medical record copying, expert witness fees, court reporters, transcripts, court fees, exhibit preparation and travel. Contingency fee clients are not expected to pay these costs. The risk of recovery of these costs, and of obtaining a legal fee is borne solely by the law firm.
This business model has the benefit of allowing clients to retain an attorney to investigate their case who could not otherwise afford to pay the costs and fees up front. However, it is evident that the model also requires lawyers who want to stay in business to select cases that have a significant probability of success. We sincerely try to help everyone who calls us. However, the reality of economics gets in the way at times.