Medical malpractice is a complicated area of law, so if you believe you’ve been injured as a result of a medical professional’s mistake or neglect, you need to make sure you hire the right medical malpractice attorney. These tips can mean the difference between getting a settlement or getting dismissed.
12 Things to Look for in a Medical Malpractice Attorney
This is the number one quality of a malpractice attorney that can make a huge impact in your case. An experienced attorney will know the medical and legal fields inside out and will have litigated and settled numerous medical malpractice cases. Many personal injury lawyers will say they can handle medical malpractice claims, but unless they’ve already done so repeatedly, you’re taking a chance with your case, a chance you may not be able to afford.
Experience is not just about settlements, either, as plenty of attorneys have negotiated successful medical malpractice settlements for their clients. The attorney you want representing you is one who has experience in the courtroom, as well. You never know if your case is going to be settled or if it will end up in court. Your attorney should plan as if they’re going to court right from the outset so that they’re well-prepared if a settlement isn’t possible.
Positive Reviews and Referrals
These days, every business has referrals online, so it’s easy for you to make sure the attorney you eventually hire has a positive rating with previous clients. Read through these online reviews and pay special attention to any that look like they come from clients with similar cases to yours. Consider both the positive and negative reviews to create an overall picture of the quality of representation you’re going to get if you hire that attorney.
Along with reviews, ask each attorney you interview to provide you with client referrals that you can contact to hear about their experience. Of course, the attorneys will all likely give you referrals they know will be positive for them, but you can still ask these referrals questions that can provide you with insight into the communication style, mannerisms, and experience of the attorney. Combine these referrals with the reviews to rate your attorney’s overall reputation.
You aren’t just looking to win your medical malpractice case. You’re also looking to receive as much compensation as you deserve. For this reason, you want to look at the track record of any attorney you’re considering for your case. While no lawyer can guarantee they can get you the same settlement or award they were able to get another client, you can learn about their ability to negotiate from their track record of cases they’ve won.
Most attorneys will proudly tell you about the biggest settlements they’ve won for their clients, but be sure to ask about cases that closely resemble yours. The lawyer may not be as experienced in situations that are similar to your case and won’t have as many examples that showcase their skills. Choose an attorney that can prove they’ve handled a case like yours before and were successful in negotiating a fair and appropriate settlement or winning a court award.
Negotiating and litigating a medical malpractice case is expensive, and you may not be able to afford to appropriately defend yourself. However, if you choose an attorney who operates on a contingency fee basis, you’ll have access to every resource necessary to fight for every right you have. If your claim needs to be investigated to find more evidence of neglect or error, your attorney will provide the investigator to ensure the case is as solid as possible.
If your case goes to trial, you’ll need an expert witness who practices in the same area as the medical professional you’ve accused of malpractice and who has the same or more education and experience. You might not be able to find such an expert on your own, much less afford one. A lawyer who doesn’t take payment until or unless your case is settled or won will have the resources to hire an expert witness to bolster your case.
This might not seem like an important quality to consider in a medical malpractice lawyer, but in fact, you need to know how your attorney is going to communicate updates in your case to you, and how often. Some clients don’t want to be updated unless there’s a settlement offer on the table or you need to appear in court for a hearing. Others want to be updated every time a document is filed or a phone call is made.
Decide how often you want to be contacted during the course of your case and whether you prefer phone calls or emails. When you initially meet with attorneys, ask them how they communicate with clients so you can ensure their style matches yours. This is also an important question to ask referrals as well to make sure their experience aligns with what the attorney is telling you. You don’t want to be out of the loop in your own case.
Education and Licensing
This may not be the most important quality to look for in a medical malpractice lawyer, but it’s still good to know where your attorney went to school to get their law degree to better understand their qualifications for practicing malpractice law. You’ll also want to verify that the attorney you hire is licensed and in good standing with your state’s bar association. Doing this will give you peace of mind in knowing their background is legitimate and they’re well-prepared.
Research any attorney you’re considering online to determine their reputation among their peers. You want to hire an attorney who’s respected in the legal field on both sides. This means that even though another attorney has lost a case against your attorney, they still think highly of them. Your attorney should be seen as someone who has high morals and ethics when it comes to upholding the law. They should also be viewed as someone who fights for their clients.
You can also visit your local courthouse and talk to other attorneys about the one you’re thinking of hiring. In most cases, the best attorneys in their field of practice are well-known among other attorneys and court staff members. This can also provide you with insight into the local relationships your attorney has built with other potential players in your case. Relationships matter when it comes to negotiations and settlements.
The Way You Feel
One quality that is less tangible than the others on this list is how you feel when you meet an attorney for the first time. Your intuition can tell you a lot about whether the attorney is the right one for you. There isn’t really a measurement for this, but you can usually tell when you’ll mesh with an attorney and when your styles are going to conflict. Listen to your inner voice to help you decide on an attorney.
Winning a medical malpractice case is difficult, especially since the medical profession is so highly revered in society. No one wants to believe a medical provider could make a mistake, but it does happen. Be sure you choose the attorney who will fight on your behalf for the compensation you deserve. Contact The Nail Law Firm to schedule your initial consultation with our expert attorneys today.