Medical malpractice claims allege that a health care professional or entity deviated from an expected standard of care, thereby causing injury. A wide range of issues fall under this umbrella from misdiagnosing an illness to surgical errors. These cases are quite complex, and your choice of an attorney can make all the difference in your case. Here are some tips for choosing a medical malpractice attorney.
Medical malpractice is a very specific area of personal injury law, and you cannot just choose any lawyer who practices in this area. Medical malpractice claims are serious and the burden of proof is heavy on the plaintiff—your lawyer must have extensive knowledge and understanding of the laws in your state, and your condition. Ask you lawyer about his access to expert witnesses and if he has one or more that could testify in your case. Find out how many cases she handles a year, how long she has been practicing and what percentage of her cases are medical malpractice.
Extensive Medical Knowledge
A strong knowledge of medicine is crucial when picking a medical malpractice attorney; your representation should be able to talk intelligently with you about your condition and what the doctor or other defendant failed to do in this situation. There are some lawyers out there who have also received their M.D or are registered nurses—this is the most ideal candidate clearly. If you cannot find a lawyer such as this, ask the attorneys about the medical professionals they consult with.
Trial experience is crucial when choosing malpractice attorneys; unlike many other types of personal injury claims that settle outside of court, medical malpractice cases typically go all the way to trial. The usual defendants in such cases, such as insurance companies, have plenty of money to spend on top-notch defense attorneys.
You should never settle on an attorney without discussing the all-important money matters. In these types of cases, lawyers typically work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if you get paid. They will take a portion of the settlement to cover their fees. Some lawyers may take a smaller percentage of the settlement, depending on how quickly the case is resolved—inquire about this when meeting with potential lawyers. Ask if there are any fees you would be responsible for if the case is unsuccessful. While there are no guarantees, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can probably give you some ballpark figures on damages, which may differ depending on if you settle or go through a trial to verdict. Ask how they came up with that estimate, and if there is a big difference, why.
Do Not Ignore Your Feelings
When deciding on your attorney, do not discount your feelings and instincts. You will be working very closely with your attorney and medical malpractice cases can take a long time. It is important to feel good about your lawyer; he is not meant to be your friend, but he should be someone you feel comfortable around and like. He should be willing to answer your questions and explain what is happening in terms you can understand.