For obvious reasons, I have a keen interest in malpractice case reports.
Yesterday, I saw a piece about a defense verdict in a case involving a delay in diagnosing cancer.
A two week delay.
This seemed crazy to me. Even if the care was super egregious - and that didn’t seem to be the case - there was no way that fourteen days would make a difference in a patient’s prognosis. Over thirty years of handling cancer cases has taught me something.
I contacted the defense lawyer, a friend and former partner.
Who would bring such a case?
I didn’t know the plaintiff’s lawyer, which is kind of unusual in and of itself. The world of Virginia medical malpractice lawyers is not a big one.
What a waste.
Reports like this are a reminder that as lawyers we do not help anyone by bringing cases which are plainly not viable.
Competence is an obligation in our profession. Competence includes being able to evaluate cases.
You have to have adequate subject matter expertise. Without it, you are operating blind.
Lawyers operating without understanding what they are doing is never a good thing.
Clients are ill-served.
Sometimes you just have to tell clients you don’t have the skills to handle a particular matter.
Declining such cases is doing a favor for clients - and you’re doing yourself a favor too.
Actually, it’s not a favor. It’s your duty.