Malpractice Attorney: Do You Need One?
Medical malpractice refers to a case where a hospital, doctor or other health care worker causes injury to a patient. This can be caused by the medical professional making a mistake which causes harm to the patient, or it can be the result of a health care worker not providing the right treatment in time, or ignoring a request for aid. Errors in diagnosing a problem or failing to provide the proper aftercare or health management while a patient is recovering are also examples of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice cases are fairly common in the United States. In 2012, it was estimated over three billion was used to pay out medical malpractice claims. Another study produced by the Johns Hopkins University in 2018 showed nearly 10 percent of deaths in the United States were a result of medical errors.
Medical malpractice cases are often considered one of the most stressful cases to pursue. This is because of the severity of the damage, as well as the resources available to doctors and hospitals. If you were the victim of medical malpractice, the best way to get justice is to hire a medical malpractice attorney.
Finding the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney
With how difficult it is to prove a medical malpractice case in court, you want to pick a lawyer you are both confident in as well as comfortable working with. You do not want to rush and pick the first medical malpractice lawyer you find. Come up with a list of potential attorneys in the area, then take a bit of time to do research on each one.
When you are researching an attorney, there are a few things to consider. The first is whether they specialize in medical malpractice law, or just take the cases. Ideally, you want a specialist lawyer. Some medical malpractice lawyers also have a background in medicine. While this is not a requirement to be a good medical malpractice attorney, it can help. If the attorney is a specialist in malpractice cases, check his or her website to see if there are any examples of past cases.
If you are having trouble finding a local attorney, you can use resources from the National Trial Lawyers as well as the American Bar Association to look for qualified attorneys in your area. Going through these resources also ensures your attorney is up to date with his or her qualifications. It is also a good way to check whether any disciplinary actions were taken against your prospective attorney.
Another way to find a list of medical malpractice attorneys is by contacting your insurance agency. You can also consult other medical professionals, especially if you are already working with a new doctor who recognizes you were the victim of medical malpractice. If you are still struggling to find a good attorney, consider speaking with friends and family to see if they have any recommendations. With how common medical malpractice cases are, there is a good chance someone in your personal network either has experience with or knows someone who was previously involved in a medical malpractice case.
Speaking with a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Finding a potential medical malpractice attorney is only the first step. Before you hire a medical malpractice attorney, speak with him or her. This initial introduction is a good time to explain the exact nature of your case to your prospective attorney. There are several questions to ask to assess whether the attorney is the right fit for you.
One of the most pressing questions has to do with payment. The first thing on your mind may be how much it will cost to hire the lawyer, but this is not the most important question to ask. Focus on how the costs are paid out. In many medical malpractice cases, the attorney agrees to work on contingency. Lawyers who work on contingency are awarded a percentage of whatever you receive as part of the settlement.
However, there may be hidden fees associated with the contingent. Ask your attorney who is responsible for additional expenses, such as expert witnesses, document preparation or court filing fees. In some cases, these are handled directly by the law firm. Other times, these fees are included at the end of the case and are taken out of your settlement, in addition to whatever percentage you and the attorney initially agreed upon.
Do not treat it as a red flag if the law firm does not cover all of your costs. While it is preferable to have the firm cover these expenses, it is not unusual for the client to pay the prices. If this is the case, ask your attorney how much it typically costs to prepare for a medical malpractice case, so you have a better idea of what the total cost will be.
What to Bring to your Medical Malpractice Attorney
Your prospective medical malpractice attorney is not required to take your case. Proving medical malpractice is difficult, and attorneys do not want to take a case they do not think they can win. If you are meeting with an attorney, there are several items to bring with you to give the prospective attorney a general idea of how difficult the case is. This not only helps convince the attorney to take your case, but it also gives you a better idea of what challenges to expect, whether you need more information, how much to expect to get, and also a general idea of how long it may take to complete your case.
It is important to bring all the medical records relating to the case. This includes medical records from the malpractice itself, as well as any records from your new doctor. These records often make up the bulk of the case. Bring any insurance information, medical bills and information relating to lost wages. These are not as important for proving your case, but it gives your attorney a general idea of how much to request in damages.