If you have followed my articles in the past you know that I believe in developing a client’s case to the optimum with good private medical experts. Indeed, the top practitioners in the veterans bar understand this. That is why some firms spend anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 per year in medical expert fees. As a veterans disability lawyer with years of experience and millions of dollars collected on behalf of disabled veterans, I understand this fundamental principle.
I recently had a conversation with the CEO of a commercial lending institution that offered a financial product to contingency fee law firms to help them cover the cost of case expenses. This executive informed me that his company had an exhibition booth at one of the recent conventions of a veterans’ lawyer organization. He was surprised that there was so little interest on the part of members of the veterans bar in funding case expenses. His hypothesis was that so few lawyers in the veterans bar spend money on experts.
This is unfortunate. But his experience was consistent with my conversations with other veterans’ disability lawyers. I remember one seasoned practitioner who told me that she can recall hiring a medical expert on only one occasion in 20 plus years of practice. I was shocked and I wondered how many cases were lost because of an unwillingness to aggressively develop the case with outside medical experts. I know of many cases that I have won over the years that would have been lost but for my hiring top notch medical experts.
What’s revealing about this is that the majority of practitioners probably are not willing to hire outside experts. It’s costly, yes. And for the most part, disabled veteran clients do not have the money. So, most veterans disability lawyers don’t want to put money out of their own pockets. But this is what often separates the average lawyer from the top tier practitioner who wins big awards in complex cases. If you are considering which law firm to represent you, consider carefully the firm’s track record and case histories. Look to determine if they have won complex cases with high powered experts. Ask them directly if they are willing to hire outside experts to win a case. A good veterans benefits attorney, who believes in your case, should be willing to advance the cost of retaining medical experts.