Where to look, what to ask, fees: all you need to find the medical malpractice lawyer you need
Do you think you might have a medical malpractice case? You may be faced with serious injuries and piles of medical bills. You need an attorney who can help – a good one.
Selecting the right attorney can often make or break a medical malpractice case; these cases are intensely complicated, and doctors are always represented by tough, aggressive insurance companies and attorneys because they are generally on a hospital's payroll. Even if they're not, their insurance company will put together a terrifying legal team.
Most commonly, medical malpractice cases revolve around a birth injury, misdiagnosis, medication mistakes, or surgical errors.
You will want to find the best medical malpractice attorney for your circumstances.
It is important to do plenty of research and choose a medical malpractice lawyer with many years of experience in medical negligence legal work. In addition to your research, we can offer you some helpful information that will ease your search. With the right attorney, you will improve your chances for a fair settlement or verdict in your personal injury case.
Where to start when you're looking for the best lawyer
Medical malpractice law is a very specialized area that requires an attorney with a lot of experience. This is because there is plenty of overlap between complicated medical and legal matters. There also are unique procedural matters that come up in medical malpractice cases.
Most attorneys in medical malpractice law practice one of two kinds:
- They defend doctors from medical malpractice suits, or
- They represent patients who have been injured
If you have been hurt because of a medical error, you need to hire a plaintiff’s lawyer. But know that experienced medical malpractice attorneys often turn down cases, so you may have to ask several to take your case.
The good news is that initial consultations are free, and many will take on your case with a no win, no fee arrangement. Learn more about lawyers' fees.
As you start looking for lawyers, consider these tips:
- Look closely at the biographical background of attorneys. Are they specialists in medical malpractice law? Do they have a medical background? Some doctors spend time in the medical world before obtaining their license to practice law. Does their website have information about their education specific to medical malpractice? Did they post case studies of successful medical malpractice cases?
- See if the lawyer is a member of personal injury trial attorney associations, such as The National Trial Lawyers or the state trial lawyers’ association in your state. You also can check the American Bar Association for local bar associations in your area. See if the attorney is listed in your area, check his background and see if he has ever been disciplined.
- Check for online reviews of medical malpractice attorneys you are considering.
Where to find good, experienced medical malpractice attorneys
Now you need to start assembling a list of the best medical malpractice attorneys in your area. There are several common methods to finding the names and numbers of good medical malpractice lawyers.
After you have a list of five or six, you can reach out.
- Call a bar association in your city, state or county. Most local bar associations have several search/referral tools to assist you in finding an attorney in a certain specialty. Note that a bar association cannot give you specific recommendations, but they do offer lists of practicing attorneys in your area.
- Talk to your insurance company. Your health insurance company may be able to offer some tips on malpractice attorneys in your state.
- Talk to another doctor. If your primary physician is not involved in the case in any way, he or she may know reputable medical malpractice attorneys in your region.
- Ask your family and friends. Your personal network is always a valuable source to find a good attorney. If you do get some names, be certain that you evaluate that attorney yourself. Never just take someone’s word for it on something this important.
- Ask attorneys in other specialties. Almost every successful attorney will know good attorneys in other specialties.
- The Enjuris personal injury lawyer directory. Check our legal directory to find a qualified medical malpractice attorney near you. It is your responsibility to contact that attorney and to decide if that professional is a good fit for your case.
Make contact with the lawyer
So, you have found some of the best medical malpractice lawyers to represent you. Now you should contact their office by phone, email or via their website. Here are some vital points to inquire about:
- What percentage of the attorney’s cases is devoted solely to medical malpractice? The more the better.
- What percentage of malpractice cases go to trial rather than settlement? If the lawyer is well known to settle cases, this will also be known by insurance companies and could affect your settlement.
- What is the lawyer’s fee agreement, and how are case costs paid? Most medical malpractice attorneys work on contingency. This means that he will be paid a percentage of any sum that is collected through a settlement of judgment. Regarding costs, you need to know if the firm will cover upfront legal fees, including expert witnesses, document prep and court filing fees, which will then be reimbursed by your settlement.
- Consider asking for a face-to-face meeting. It isn’t essential, and you should not rule out a lawyer who won’t give you face time on short notice. Good malpractice attorneys have a lot on their plate.
- What is the lawyer’s policy on giving legal work to assistants and paralegals? You need to know that your case will be handled for the most part by the lawyer himself.
- Read more on how to approach and interact with the lawyer, including a form with questions.
What to show your medical malpractice attorney
If you have decided on a medical malpractice attorney, you need to provide him or her with a lot of documentation for the best result.
These cases are very complicated, and your attorney will need to have all of this documentation available to have a shot at winning your case at settlement or verdict:
- All medical records pertaining to the injury. Your medical records are the most important part of the case. If you are claiming that a nurse practitioner injured you while in her care, your medical records for that visit or procedure will detail exactly what was done. If you don’t have the records, your attorney can get them for you.
- Mental health records. If you have seen a mental health professional, your lawyer should review these documents whether or not you are claiming the treatment is because of the medical condition.
- Prescription drug information. You lawyer needs to know the names of all drugs you are taking and the dosages. It often saves time if you can just show your lawyer the bottles of prescription drugs.
- Insurance information. If you have health insurance, provide that information to your lawyer. He needs to know the scope of your coverage.
- Medical bills and invoices. If you do have health insurance, that company may pay much of your bills. But your attorney still wants to see how much you were charged.
- Lost wages information. If your injury has caused you to miss work, you may be able to be compensated for that lost time. Provide wage records from before and after the injury.
- Documents from the defense. If you have any documents from the doctor you are suing, show them to your attorney.
If your medical malpractice case involves a federal health care center or health care provider, he or she may be immune from a medical malpractice lawsuit, per The Federal Tort Claims Act
. Talk to your attorney to learn more.
Now you should be armed with plenty of good information to help you find a top medical malpractice attorney. Remember, our Personal Injury Law Firms Directory is a great resource to find an attorney near you.
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