If you believe your doctor or other healthcare professional has failed to offer a standard of care that would reasonably be expected in your situation, and as such, you suffered some sort of injury, you may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim. Examples include a failure to diagnose a condition, medication or surgical errors, providing improper treatment or not providing informed consent. Note that medical malpractice is not about simply getting an undesirable result. This is a complex area of personal injury law, and choosing the right attorney is absolutely imperative. Here are some important considerations for making your decision.
Experience, Experience, Experience
This tip may come across as incredibly obvious, and it is. But, I note it because far too many people do not consider it carefully enough, and pick an attorney who is not well-suited to represent them. Medical malpractice is highly, highly complex, and you must seek representation from a lawyer who handles these cases specifically, not just a general personal injury lawyer. They need to have a strong foundation of medical knowledge; they should have a network of expert witnesses to tap into, they should be able to explain to you what went wrong in your situation. Some lawyers who specialize in medical malpractice also have medical or nursing degrees—if possible, look for attorneys with such a designation. The ideal lawyer will primarily handle plaintiff cases, and not also act as representation for defendants of medical malpractice claims.
Unlike other types of personal injury claims, medical malpractice cases are more likely to go to trial. Doctors and other health care professionals will fight harder not to have this black mark on their records; insurance companies have plenty of money to mount a defense. While it is possible your case may settle to your satisfaction, you want an injury law firm experienced with taking cases all the way to trial.
Be Wary of Lawyers Who Charge Fees to Review Cases
Not all claims of medical malpractice hold water, and attorneys need to carefully review them to see if there is a case there. Some lawyers may charge a fee to review your claim and evaluate whether it has merit. While the firm may be completely legitimate, it is possible the lawyers bread and butter comes from case review fees, and not mounting actual legitimate cases.
Have a Clear Understanding of Fees
Personal injury cases are typically on a contingency basis, meaning the attorney will front the fees and take a portion of any money you are awarded. Typically, each state has laws outlining the percentage paid to the lawyer based on the amount of the settlement. Sometimes a lawyer may have you advance certain fees, which you would not get back should you lose your case. Before signing on with an attorney, make sure you fully understand the finances.
Medical malpractice cases are long and involved; it can take a long time to reach a resolution, and you will be working with your lawyer closely and for a potentially extended period of time. It is important you choose a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable. While you are looking for a lawyer and not a best buddy, you should like the person.