Medical Malpractice Attorneys Shun Elderly Clients

Elderly victims or their survivors rarely file malpractice suits, in large part because it can be impossible to find attorneys to represent them, according to an article in The Bergen (New Jersey) Record.

For the attorneys, it's a simple cost-benefit calculation: malpractice damages are awarded primarily for lost income, meaning that the fees from a potential settlement or jury award won''t be enough to cover their time and expenses.

Malpractice actions are extremely expensive to bring. Lawyers can spend anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on whether the case settles or goes to trial. The ideal malpractice victim, from a lawyer''s perspective, is a man in his 40s, presumably at the peak of his earnings with 20 or more years of work left. A retired person living on a pension and Social Security is not an attractive client, even if the malpractice seems clear.

"Few medical malpractice lawyers will take on a case involving an older person," says Peter J. Strauss, a New York attorney and law journal columnist on elder law.

One solution would be to broaden the scope of possible damages to include payment for a poorer quality of life. But doctors and insurance companies are pressuring lawmakers to go in the opposite direction and restrict damages and awards in malpractice suits.

To read the full article, 'Elderly find their malpractice cases aren''t worth lawyers'' time,' go to: