You probably don’t worry about your safety when seeing a healthcare provider – your focus is getting better quickly. Unfortunately, sometimes medical professionals act negligently, resulting in harm to the patients who trusted them. If this happens to you, a medical malpractice attorney can help you recover financial compensation to ease the injustice you sustained.
So many lawyers are out there – you see them daily on billboards, TV, and radio and hear their promising ads. How do you know your chosen lawyer can win your case while keeping your best interests at heart? Let’s explore further what a medical malpractice attorney can do for you and how to find the right one.
Why You Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Of course, medical professionals are human beings who sometimes make mistakes. You cannot sue someone for medical malpractice simply because they made a mistake that led to an injury. You must demonstrate that the healthcare provider committed a negligent action or failed to take action that caused your injury.
A successful medical malpractice case must meet four elements.
- Duty – a level of care owed to you by becoming that doctor’s patient
- Breach – the doctor’s action, or lack thereof, violated the standard of care you would receive from comparable doctors in the same specialty
- Causation – your injury can be proven a result of the negligent act
- Damages – you were physically and financially injured by the negligent act
Examples of medical malpractice claims include failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, surgical or medication errors, and healthcare providers under the influence.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are some of the more complicated in the legal world. For one thing, there is often more than one person or entity involved in the negligence that harmed you (e.g., the physician and the hospital that employs them). Medical professionals have special insurance to protect them against malpractice lawsuits, and their hospitals or health centers have aggressive legal teams ready to defend them. There is also an incredible amount of documentation needed to prove your case, from medical records to insurance information to proof of lost wages.
It’s important to hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can do all of this work for you. Medical malpractice attorneys also have relationships with experts in the healthcare field. They can subpoena those professionals and other witnesses to speak on your behalf if your case goes to trial. A competent lawyer with experience in medical malpractice is simply a must if you want to win your case.
So, how do you find one?
Where to Begin Your Medical Malpractice Attorney Search
The best place to find an excellent medical malpractice attorney is by asking people you already trust – family, friends, or colleagues who may have had a good experience with someone.
Of course, you can also use the Internet and do a Google search. Once you find a few lawyers, read through their firm’s website thoroughly. It should have updated bios of each attorney, their individual practice areas, and examples of successful cases. You can also look online for unbiased reviews. Creating a list of potential attorneys shouldn’t be too difficult between personal referrals and online searching.
As a precaution, go to your state’s bar association and look up each name on your list to ensure they haven’t had any disciplinary violations.
Next, you’ll contact each attorney’s office and ask them several questions to determine whether they are a good fit for you and your case. You can do this over the phone or, ideally, during a free consultation, which any good medical malpractice law firm will offer. You may meet with the attorney who will actually be working on your case or another person who conducts consultations. If it’s the latter, make sure you meet the lawyer who will be representing you before you sign any contracts.
What To Ask During Your Free Lawyer Consultation
Do not be afraid to ask as many questions as you want, no matter how silly they might seem to you. Remember, you’re interviewing these attorneys to work for you. Here are a few good questions to get you started.
What is your fee agreement, and do you charge anything upfront?
Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, meaning you pay nothing upfront. Only if you win your case will they collect a percentage that is subtracted from your final settlement or award.
What percentage of your cases is medical malpractice?
You want someone experienced in medical malpractice; ideally, they have a good track record of cases similar to your specific type of medical malpractice.
Are you willing to go to trial for me?
If the attorney says no, that’s a red flag. Medical malpractice cases are sometimes settled out of court, but if you end up at trial, you want someone who will fight confidently and expertly on your behalf.
What’s the best way to reach you during this process?
Your attorney should have an easy way for you to contact them whenever you wish, whether that be by phone or e-mail. They should keep you updated regularly and whenever something new happens, allowing you to be an active player in your case.
How much time will you have to dedicate to my case?
If your potential lawyer has case files piled up everywhere in their office, it’s a good indication that they may have more work than they can adequately handle. If the lawyer seems to have all the time in the world, that’s also a bad sign. You want to be somewhere in the middle.
Washington, D.C., has a strict three-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice. It will take time to gather all the evidence of your injury and build your case. At Paulson & Nace, our team of medical malpractice attorneys has a long history of securing significant client settlements. We serve clients in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and West Virginia and are passionate about holding negligent medical professionals accountable. Please contact us whenever you’re ready at 202-463-1999, or via our online contact form, for your free and confidential case review.
Both an Emory School of Law graduate and MBA graduate of Goizueta Business School at Emory, Chris Nace focuses his practice on areas of medical malpractice, drug and product liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination and other negligence and personal injury matters.