Is It Worth Bringing A Medical Malpractice Case in Tennessee?
Hi, I’m Bill Walk. I’m a lawyer here at the Crone Law Firm here in Memphis, and my practice focuses on medical malpractice, nursing home neglect and catastrophic injury cases. The question that I get almost every day from potential clients is whether or not it’s worth pursuing a medical malpractice case or a nursing home neglect case. And I certainly always give them the same great answer. Maybe.
There are some real reliable statistics in the United States that show that the third leading cause of death in this country is as a result of medical negligence. Yet very few people know this because it gets very little publicity. In Tennessee, the doctors own their own insurance company, and that insurance company spends millions of dollars every year on lawyers, on lobbying, on all kinds of strategies to prevent the public from having access to suing doctors, collecting from doctors, or getting compensation from mistakes that the doctors and hospitals may make.
There are very few lawyers in Tennessee that even pursue these cases. One reason is the Tennessee state legislature has made it so difficult to pursue a medical malpractice case. Many times when speaking to a new client, they will tell me these stories that are horrific, that there seems absolutely an obvious case of negligence on the doctor. Yet in some of those cases, their damages are only 10 to $25,000, which seems like a lot to them, and it’s a lot to me, too.
But to pursue a medical malpractice case is so expensive, that sometimes those cases aren’t even worth pursuing. And here’s why. Every medical malpractice case I take, I take on a contingency fee basis, which means that the plaintiff, or the client, will not have to pay me any hourly rate. I do not collect or get any fees until I recover for you. But also, those cases cause my firm to have to front anywhere from $25 to $100,000 in expenses just to advance these cases. Those expenses include expensive experts, travel, depositions, and all types of legal support that it takes to bring one of those cases.
Doctors almost never settle these lower cases because they know that the incentives for the lawyers to take them is very low. So even though the damages are significant to you, it almost takes catastrophic damages to make a medical malpractice case worth it.
The other reason is there’s a state and local database. Every time a doctor settles a case with someone, they have to report this to the database. As a result, that endangers that doctor’s chances of getting hired at another hospital, at another practice, if they’re traveling to another city. So they’re very particular and very reluctant to settle cases.
As a result, they do not give consent to the insurance companies to resolve their cases. Also, there’s, of course, ego involved. Many doctors have spent years and years and years going to school. They’re treated with great reverence, and people defer to them.
So when someone sues them, it takes them very aback and their almost reaction always is a negative reaction and it causes them to be very defensive. So they’re many times reluctant to settle unless it’s an overwhelming case. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t successfully bring a medical malpractice or nursing home neglect case. I do them every day and we’ve been successful in getting good results from our clients in the last 33 years.
And so if you do have a potential case, if you’ve you do think you’ve been injured as a result of medical negligence or one of your loved ones through nursing home neglect, I highly encourage you to see counsel from a lawyer who handles these types of cases.
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