Looking to hire the right medical malpractice attorney?
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 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 medical malpractice 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.
Medical malpractice lawyers (sometimes called “medical lawyers”) either:
- Defend doctors from medical malpractice suits, or
- Represent patients who have been injured
If you have been hurt because of a medical error, you need to hire a medical malpractice attorney who represents patients. But know that experienced medical malpractice attorneys often turn down cases, so you may have to meet with several before you find one who is willing to handle your medical malpractice lawsuit. The good news is that initial consultations are free, and many attorneys will handle your case on a contingent fee basis, meaning you don’t pay a penny unless you win. As you start looking for a lawyer, 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?
- Check with your state bar association to see if the attorney you’re considering has ever been disciplined. Most state bar associations will also be able to tell you whether the attorney is a member of any medical malpractice attorney groups, and whether they’ve obtained any special recognition from the state bar with respect to their area of practice.
- Check for online reviews of medical malpractice attorneys you are considering.
Where to find the best medical negligence lawyer near you
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 the bar association in your state. Most bar associations have several search/referral tools to assist you in finding a medical malpractice attorney near you. 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, they 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 malpractice attorney.
- Ask attorneys in other specialties. If you know and trust an attorney in another field, ask them for a recommendation. Almost every successful attorney knows a good medical malpractice attorney.
Make contact with the medical malpractice lawyer
So, you have found some of the best medical malpractice lawyers around. It’s now time to contact them 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 the attorney’s cases settle without going to trial? Experienced attorneys are willing to go to trial, but also know when to settle. Make sure the attorney is willing to talk to you about the pros and cons of settling a case.
- 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. Most attorneys are willing to have an initial consultation with a potential client for free.
- What is the lawyer's policy on giving legal work to assistants and paralegals? It’s common to give some tasks to paralegals and associates (this typically saves you money), but you need to know that the bulk of the legal work will be hired by the attorney.
What to bring to your first meeting with your medical malpractice attorney
If you have decided on a medical malpractice attorney, you need to provide them 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 some of your bills. But your attorney still wants to see how much you were charged.
- Lost wage 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.
More resources on Enjuris.com you might find helpful
- An expert witness can be the key to your personal injury case
- Tips on finding a qualified personal injury attorney - where to look
- Negotiating lawyers fees - how do accident lawyers charge? Are there any hidden costs?
- Choosing a personal injury attorney – interview questions
- Preparing to meet with a personal injury attorney
- Why might a personal injury lawyer decline my case?
- The claims process and how long a personal injury lawsuit takes