Establishing an accurate record retrieval budget early in the discovery process is an essential step in the planning phase of your litigation. When done wrong, it can adversely affect your strategy and eventually your outcome. Medical records are important. They determine the validity of product liability or environmental exposure cases. That is why properly forecasting the cost associated with retrieving and analyzing is such a critical component of a case, early on. It should be done with focus and with precision.
As mass tort professionals, We understand some of the common mistakes that happen with budget forecasts. We advise legal teams to watch out for these three mistakes that create inaccurate budget assumptions.
1. Underestimating the number of providers needed to be contacted
Never assume a single provider will have all the medical records needed to prove or disprove causation. One claimant can have medical records critical to your case that span multiple providers in different states. There is a cost associated with contacting each provider for the initial record request and any subsequent follow up. If there are dozens or even hundreds of claimants, understanding how to calculate provider costs into your budget can be crucial to forecasting an accurate budget.
2. Underestimating the number of pages that will need to be reviewed
Legal teams understand critical elements of their case can be found within medical records. But what is often under or overestimated when developing discovery budgets is the amount of time required to interpret the records collected. Getting a clear understanding of the relevant medical facts cannot be done without a detailed review of the medical records. Crafting a budget that accounts for the type of resource performing the analysis, such as a legal nurse consultant, and the review time assumptions will help avoid budget failures.
3. Using the same “average case cost” for different types of cases
It is common for legal teams to naturally lean on past budget data to help determine new assumptions for average case costs. One of the biggest mistakes with this is not realizing that the average case cost can vary drastically depending on the type of litigation and discovery and resolution strategies. Consider, for example, that the medical record review needed to support a trial case is often an order of magnitude larger than a non-trial case. It can cost upwards of 70% more due to the intense preparation and analysis. In addition, record retrieval strategies and case work-up strategies have significant impact on average case costs. Record retrieval record type and look back periods are key cost drivers. And case cost averages vary significantly between complex work product versus critical facts reporting only. Whenever you are using prior case cost information, make sure you are performing a true apples-to-apples comparison.
MRC can help.
Here’s some good news: Even if you don’t have data from a similar case, or a broad data set for validation of assumptions, you can use ours. MRC offers budget development assistance and a Budget Development Tool at no cost to our clients. Utilizing our over 38 years of litigation support expertise, data and data analytics from various litigation types, you can feel confident in the assumptions and process used to create your budget
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