Most of us want to give medical professionals the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, doctors don’t always know everything, as is evidenced by the 20,000 medical malpractice claims that are filed every year. Whether you’ve been misdiagnosed or have experienced surgical complications due to medical negligence, you do have options at your disposal. But when you need an attorney, as you do when filing a medical malpractice claim, you need to be certain that you’ll be getting sound legal advice from a reputable professional. Wondering how to choose a good attorney for medical malpractice? Be sure to ask these five questions in your consultation.
- “How much experience do you have with medical malpractice cases?”
Medical malpractice cases are often extremely difficult to prove. And because there are numerous types of medical malpractice cases, you shouldn’t assume that there’s some kind of “one-lawyer-fits-all” standard. For example, some lawyers may focus primarily on birth and pregnancy negligence, while others focus on drug administration mistakes or on surgical errors. Medical malpractice lawyers are expected to stay up-to-date on technological advancements and changes in policy that pertain to these fields, as well. Ask your lawyer about their focuses and relevant experience (particularly in bringing cases to trial) before committing.
- “How do you find medical experts for your cases?”
When you need an attorney for medical malpractice, you’ll need to sure they are capable. But you also need to make sure that the experts on whom they rely are capable, too. These kinds of cases will require testimony from expert witnesses in order to prove negligence. Failure to find a medical expert (or working with one who doesn’t have quite the amount of expertise that they should) will likely result in case dismissal. Ask your lawyer about whether they work with expert witnesses regularly or have guaranteed access to these kinds of professionals. If their answer is too vague, find a lawyer who can provide you with exact information on this topic.
- “Do you have the financial resources required for my case?”
Another good tip on how to choose a law firm for medical malpractice is to make sure they will work on a contingency fee basis and that they will absorb the upfront costs associated with these kinds of cases. Your lawyer should take on the financial responsibility of research, expert witness fees, preparation of documents, and more. Working on a contingency fee basis means that your lawyer will receive a percentage of any settlement you receive and will be paid only if you win your case or reach a settlement with the other party. These cases can be expensive to pursue, so your lawyer needs to have the financial resources to do it.
- “Are you nationally recognized in your field?”
This is not to say that smaller, local firms can’t successfully fight on your behalf. But you should still do your research and work with well-regarded legal professionals. Look for attorneys who teach courses, lecture, or have published articles or books to their name. You may also want to look for lawyers who have high ratings from organizations like US News, World Report, Best Lawyers, Martinale-Hubbell, and the American Bar Association. You can do some of this research on your own when you need an attorney of any kind, but you may also want to ask your lawyer for their accreditation or any recognition they’ve received.
- “Are we a good fit?”
The bottom line is that your attorney should understand your circumstances and be a good fit for your personal style. To know your lawyer, you must first know yourself. Be honest about what you expect from an attorney: are you okay with being hands-off, or do you want frequent case updates? Do you need someone warm and compassionate or are you fine with someone who’s no-nonsense? In your consultation, trust your gut. If you don’t think you two will get along or you feel their approach is lacking, choose someone else.
When you need an attorney for medical malpractice, you can’t take a chance on an inexperienced law firm. We’re here to help you through every step of the process. To find out more, contact the Law Offices of Steve Zwick today.