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What Does a Lawyer Look for in a Medical Malpractice Case?



Before your lawyer agrees to take on your medical malpractice case, he or she will look for several things. Medical malpractice cases take a long time to resolve and are expensive to litigate. Therefore, before your attorney decides to take your case, he or she must determine that the damages you can recover by either a settlement or judgment will be substantial enough to cover the costs of litigating your case. It does neither you nor your attorney any good to win a lengthy, expensive legal battle if the damages you can recover are less than the costs of trying the case.

The next item your attorney will address is liability. A case with large damages will not result in a favorable settlement or verdict unless your attorney can prove that the other side committed malpractice. Medical expertise is required, so your attorney will probably have your case reviewed by another doctor before accepting it. If the doctor believes that the standard of care you received from your treating physicians is less than the profemessional standard of care, your case can go forward.

The next step is to determine whether the medical malpractice of your treating physicians actually caused your injury. Some cases are based on damages due to a delay in treatment. In these cases, the plaintiff was eventually given a correct diagnosis, but an earlier diagnosis was incorrect. Proof that the delay in diagnosis caused damages is often extremely complicated and requires substantial discovery by taking depositions, obtaining records, and conferring with experts. Your attorney has to predict whether a jury is likely to find that you were injured by a defendant's malpractice based on evidence that may not even have been seen yet. The more certain an attorney is that he or she can obtain a favorable settlement or judgment for you, the more likely he or she is to take the case. A case where a surgeon left surgical instruments inside a patient after surgery is a much more predictable case than a case based on a delay in diagnosing a condition.

The most important thing you can do is to provide your attorney with all the information you have. If you have information that could hurt your case, it is better to give your attorney this information immediately so that he or she can accurately evaluate your case as quickly as possible.