If you or someone you love has been the victim of a medical negligence or malpractice incident, you have a lot on your plate. There’s the pain and suffering of the outcome as well as the stress of recovering and paying your bills.
It sounds like you need a good medical negligence attorney. Choosing the right one for this type of claim involves much more than identifying a lawyer who has a solid reputation.
“Finding a qualified and experienced lawyer is critical in a medical malpractice case, much more so than in a standard personal injury case-like those arising from car accidents or slip and fall mishaps,” explains David Berg of AllLaw. “But medical malpractice is a relatively rare specialty; not many lawyers spend a lot of their time handling these kinds of cases.”
You need an attorney who’s highly experienced in the field of medical malpractice. Here’s a guide to help you find one.
Getting recommendations for an attorney is a great place to start. You might know someone who has been through this process; his or her insights can not only help you select suitable legal counsel, but also help you navigate the challenges of the process.
Take a look at online reviews as well. You can learn a lot from the experiences of others, both good and bad. That being said, don’t accept everything you read in the reviews.
“Check for any online reviews of the lawyers you’re considering (but keep in mind that many former clients will rip an attorney if their case is unsuccessful based on outcome alone),” says David Goguen, J.D. in an article published on Lawyers.com.
Check Their Track Record
You need an attorney with experience. The specialty of medical malpractice is complex and detailed. Lawyers who have less experience may not be able to win you as much compensation as you deserve.
You can learn a lot about an attorney’s track record on their website. For example, this attorney’s office in Chicago describes several of the most successful cases handled by the firm, including a $33.2 million verdict for a young man in a lake county accident.
If you can’t find the information on the website, you can always call and ask. Most attorneys’ offices will readily share their successes and give you a good idea of their track record.
Interview Potential Attorneys
There’s no better way to uncover information on a prospective attorney than simply to ask. Narrow down your search to two or three options you believe might do a great job and schedule an interview.
Most attorneys won’t charge you for the initial consultation (and if one does, scratch that person off your list). Write down a list of questions to bring with you. Some you might ask include:
- How many cases are you currently working on?
- How many cases have you tried?
- How long will it take to prepare my settlement demands?
- What are my chances of winning the case?
- How much do you think I can win?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of this case?
“Keep in mind that there are some things that a lawyer won’t be able to tell you at that meeting — for example, what the weaknesses in your case are,” Mr. Berg of AllLaw says. “The lawyer may not know that until they have looked at all of the documentation.
“More importantly, a good medical malpractice lawyer will not tell you how much your case is worth at the first meeting,” Berg continues. “A good lawyer does not know how much a malpractice case is worth until he/she looks at all of the information and data in the case. If a lawyer tells you at the first meeting that you’ve got a great case and that it’s worth a million dollars, you don’t want to hire that lawyer.”
Check with the County Bar Association
Although it’s fairly difficult for an attorney to commit fraud, it does happen. A certification plaque on the wall doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with a certified attorney.
To make certain that you’re talking to the real deal, call your local county bar association. They’ll have an active list of all the lawyers in the area.
While your attorney’s forte should be the law, obviously, it really helps if he or she has a little medical knowledge. “In order to be able to adequately prepare or cross examine an expert witness, an attorney needs to have a sound understanding of the underlying medical terms, procedures, diagnoses and theories,” says an article from LawInfo.com.
“For this reason, many medical malpractice attorneys have their own nurses, doctors or other medical professionals with whom they consult to learn about the relevant standard of care. Other medical malpractice attorneys are also medical doctors or registered nurses and thus have expertise in both law and medicine.”
Include this detail in your list of questions when you interview attorneys. It could be exactly what you need to put your case over the line and win.