At the Indiana medical malpractice law firm of the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we take your concerns and potential claims extremely seriously. We understand that the people who come to us may be coping with severe injuries and illnesses, the loss of a loved one, and financial difficulties. Our goal is to provide you with our honest assessment of your case.
Unfortunately, Indiana medical malpractice laws are complicated and these cases are very difficult to prove and win. The attorney and staff at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson strive to show compassion to every person who contacts us for help, but we feel it would be a disservice to you if we are not straightforward about whether we think we can help.
Although every case we evaluate is unique, here are some of the common reasons we do not take cases:
We Don’t Think Your Case Will Meet the Threshold for Medical Malpractice
In medical malpractice cases, we have to prove that negligence on the part of your health care provider led to substandard treatment and that the negligent treatment resulted in significant harm. This could include a medication mistake, a missed diagnosis, and other medical errors. However, it’s important to understand that not all errors are considered malpractice. A bad outcome does not necessarily mean that your injury was the result of negligence. Your complication may be considered an accepted “risk of the procedure”. Also, if other medical professionals in the same position would have made the same decision, then you likely don’t have a medical malpractice claim.
The Indiana Medical Malpractice Act requires that cases be reviewed by a panel of three healthcare providers before a case can be filed in court. This peer review process is a difficult hurdle. A doctor may find that there is a “judgment call” or that while he or she may not have done the same thing, it does not rise to the level of malpractice.
The Statute of Limitations Has Passed
Indiana law generally gives people two years from the date of the negligent act to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In that claim, we must name each and every potential physician or entity that may be negligent. Although there are certain circumstances under which the statute of limitations may be different, if we determine that the time limit has passed on your claim, we will not be able to pursue it.
Additionally, because medical malpractice cases are so difficult to win, we like to conduct a thorough review before filing an action. After the attorney reviews the potential claim, we utilize nurses and may obtain expert review on both negligence and/or causation. This can take months. If we are contacted close to the statute of limitations, we may not feel that we have time to obtain the necessary records or sufficient time to evaluate your claim prior to the statute of limitations running.
We May Have a Conflict of Interest
As a long-time medical malpractice attorney in the Indianapolis area, we have worked with many talented medical professionals over the years. This could include medical professionals who have provided important treatment to our clients. We believe that most health care professionals want the best for their patients and take every precaution to do no harm. If, for some reason, your claim is against a medical professional that we feel presents a conflict of interest for us, then we may advise you that we have a conflict and suggest you contact another attorney.
The Amount of Damages You Are Seeking Is Very Low or Hard to Prove
Our attorney works extremely hard to fight for the rights of medical malpractice victims. However, we do advance all the costs of handling these cases, including the cost to have medical professionals review your medical records and the costs to hire expert witnesses. Since we accept cases on a contingent fee basis, we do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you. Additionally, medical malpractice claims take 1-3 years to make it through the medical review panel process and another 1-2 years after that to proceed in court. Those factors require us to be very selective about the cases we accept. We are sympathetic to those who may have suffered a malpractice injury and are facing relatively minor bills or have experienced a full recovery. But we have found that it is not cost effective to pursue cases for minor damages because of the significant time and expense involved in preparing them. There are other instances where it is too difficult to prove what damages you may have suffered from the medical condition for which you originally sought medical care and what damages were the result of any medical negligence. The law requires us to prove that the outcome more likely than not would have been different and that can be difficult to prove in some cases.
- Experience: There are times that we reject the opportunity to pursue a case because we have experience with that type of case and have been down that road before.
- Patient Negligence: There are times that a patient has been told by a healthcare provider to do something that they did not follow up and do that directly impacts the claim of negligence. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for those actions. However, there are circumstances under the law that may mean that failure by the patient could be a roadblock to recovery. This is a complex area of law that we sometimes have to consider.
- The Records and the Story Don’t Match: There are times that a client gives us a history that is not supported by the medical records. It is very difficult to convince healthcare providers that the medical records are not accurate in a case.
- Another Attorney Dropped Your Case: It is difficult to pick up the case that another attorney started and then decided not to continue his or her representation. Because at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we try to evaluate cases early on and have our own philosophy and methods relating to the best way to develop a case, we prefer to take cases at the beginning of the claim.
Why Don’t We Give You a Reason
When people call and we decline your case, we may not give you a reason why we have made this decision. This is for your benefit. We do this for several reasons. A few of those are as follows:
- The decision not to take your case is based on our opinions alone. Another attorney may have a different opinion as to the potential success of your case.
- We may not have all of the facts. If we reject your claim, but were not aware of a significant fact, it might change the analysis. If you call another attorney, they may have a different opinion.
- We may have concerns about a potential statute of limitations may not have time to fully evaluate the case. Statute of limitations cases are very fact sensitive and another attorney may have a different opinion as to when that expires.
While the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson may decide not to investigate or pursue your potential case, our decision is not intended to minimize in any way what you have gone through. It is simply based on our legal analysis regarding the assessment of our ability to successfully bring a claim. The opinions expressed are ours alone and another attorney may reach a different conclusion.
When you schedule a free consultation with our legal team, we will discuss all your options and give you sincere advice on how to proceed. If we decide not to take your case, we will explain why so you can consider how to move forward.