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A "Simple Case"

There is no such thing as a “simple case.”

In hindsight, you might conclude that a matter was easily handled, but that’s almost never predictable at the start.

About once a week, I am contacted by someone with a question about a Federal Tort Claims Act case. That’s not surprising. For almost 25 years we’ve handled FTCA medical malpractice cases all over the country.

Sometimes, it is someone I know. More often, it is not. Again, that’s not surprising. We are very well-known.

Probably half of the lawyers have a tactical question of some sort. The attorney knows what he or she is doing. The conversation is usually productive, and I often learn something myself.

The other half of the discussions range from frustrating to scary. The lawyer is clueless.

Often, the attorney tells me that the case seemed straightforward.

That’s an immediate red flag.

In my experience - which is extensive- there are very few malpractice cases that do not involve a fair element of complexity. Even if a doctor amputates the wrong leg, the matter will likely have some twists and turns.

FTCA procedures are not rocket science, but there are traps for the ignorant and unwary.

Usually, I can walk the lawyer through the immediate issue. Whether or not my advice ultimately benefits the attorney’s client is hard to predict.

Frankly, I am not sure I want to know.

It’s stating the obvious, but as lawyers we have a duty of competence.

Clients deserve competent representation.

Good lawyers need a very keen sense of what they don’t know.

If a matter seems simple, you probably don’t understand what is involved in representing the client effectively.

Be quick to refer cases.


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