Things to Consider When Selecting Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Choosing among the best medical malpractice attorneys for you may seem like a tall order, especially if you've never hired a lawyer before. But if you or a loved one has recently suffered an injury caused by a medical professional, you probably need legal help. This article will guide you through the selection criteria, so you can get the help you need.
You should consider many factors when trying to narrow down the list of prospective medical malpractice attorneys, such as:
- Their background, experience, and legal skills
- The strategy they employ for medical malpractice cases
- The amount they estimate you could receive for your case, along with the projected legal fees and expenses
- Your personal comfort level and trust in the lawyers
Before You Hire a Malpractice Attorney
Plan on meeting with the medical malpractice attorneys you're considering hiring for a brief introductory session, often called an initial consultation. Many medical malpractice attorneys are willing to meet with you at these initial consultations for free.
These meetings accomplish a couple of goals. First, you get to learn about the lawyers' background and qualifications. And second, you can get some feedback about your case while, at the same time, learning how the various lawyers would handle your case.
The initial consultations will provide you with vital information that will help you in your selection process.
Background, Experience & Legal Skills
When meeting with attorneys who handle medical malpractice cases, ask questions that hone in on their experience and track record. Some possible questions include:
- How long have you been trying medical malpractice cases?
- How many of these cases do you handle each year?
- Do you know a medical expert witness whose testimony will be crucial to my case?
- Do you practice any other types of law? Or do medical malpractice lawsuits take up 100 percent of your time?
- What are some of the complexities of my case? How do the laws in my state affect my case?
Even if you know very little about malpractice law, the answers should help you determine how experienced the prospective lawyers are in this field.
Suggested Strategy for Handling Your Medical Malpractice Case
The initial consultation is a two-way street-you are learning about the lawyer you may hire and the lawyer is learning about your case. This is your chance to get some feedback about your case, as well as some insight as to what strategy the lawyer may employ and his or her style. You'll also get an idea if a settlement is likely or if you may have to go all the way to court.
When discussing case strategy, ask yourself:
- Does the lawyer seem to have a sensible strategy? Do you agree with it?
- If you voiced any disagreements, how did the lawyer react?
Awards, Fees & Expenses
Don't leave your initial consultations without discussing money. You'll want to find out their opinion of how much your medical malpractice lawsuit could be worth, and you'll want an estimate of the legal fees and expenses you will have to pay out.
You may already have an idea how much your injury has cost you so far in medical expenses. You may also be entitled to future medical expenses, as well as compensation for harder-to-quantify impacts, such as pain and suffering or harm to the relationships you have enjoyed with your family.
Ask the lawyers if they are familiar with your particular injury and how they come up with estimates. Get two estimates: one if you settle and another if your case is decided in court. If their estimates differ greatly from others you have received, try to find out why.
Other financial areas to probe include:
- If they charge an hourly rate or take a percentage of any settlement or trial award you may receive
- If they require a retainer up front to cover initial expenses
- What that retainer might amount to, given what they know about your case
- If they can give you a ballpark figure on other expenses and fees associated with your case
Again, if the numbers you are given are different from previous estimates, ask why.
Comfort & Trust
You may be no expert in the laws that encompass medical malpractice, but you should still be able to objectively determine if the lawyers you interview are qualified to handle your case. But there are also some subjective considerations: Do you feel comfortable with this malpractice attorney? Can you trust him or her? Can you relay on his or her advice and judgment?
Hiring a Medical Malpractice Attorney
After you've completed initial consultations with all of the attorneys you are considering hiring, it's time to decide which one. Take your time in going over the criteria in this article and comparing how each candidate measures up. If you like more than one, ask them for the contact information on several past clients you can use as references. Call them, and get the real scoop on what they liked and didn't like about their attorney.
Don't take too long to in deciding which medical malpractice lawyer to hire. The statute of limitations, or deadline you have in which to file your lawsuit, may be fast approaching, Once you've decided which lawyer is the best for you, you can move forward with your medical malpractice lawsuit.