If you are suffering from medical issues that may have been caused by the negligence of a doctor or medical professional, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. However, with so many attorneys in the state, how do you know which one might be the best for your situation?
You can research attorneys fairly well through their websites and credentialing organizations like the state bar association. It’s also helpful to speak with people you trust who may have been in your situation, and get their recommendations.
Ultimately, you should interview any medical malpractice lawyer whom you are considering hiring. A face-to-face discussion will tell you many things you need to know before working with someone on this critically important matter. You want to place your trust in someone who can help you through what may be a long, difficult process.
Here are five questions you should ask any attorney you are considering for your medical malpractice case.
1. Have You Successfully Pursued Similar Medical Malpractice Claims?
Before you decide to hire a medical malpractice attorney, you need to establish that they have had success in this area of law.
Medical errors kill roughly 200,000 patients annually in the United States. 15% of lawsuits filed annually involve medical-malpractice claims, but only 20% of those lawsuits result in monetary recovery for the patient.
Medical malpractice attorneys should be able to show you past results of previous cases. Many include success stories on their website or will have newspaper articles about large recoveries for their clients. Because these cases can drag on for a long time and become complex and difficult, you want to be sure that your advocate knows the ropes.
Many malpractice attorneys have prior experience in the medical field. This background is helpful for understanding medical records and other evidence that will be integral to your claim.
Ask your prospective lawyer for evidence that they have taken cases like yours in the past and produced satisfactory results for patients like you. Make them prove their case to you before you ask them to prove your case to a judge or jury.
2. Do You Have Experience in Related Issues to My Injury?
You should also ask your lawyer about their experience in ancillary issues, which may come into play during your malpractice case. For example, you want to know that your attorney has a background in representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases because those procedures will be important in your case as well.
Medical malpractice cases may touch on many other areas of law. Your attorney must be able to anticipate the physician’s defenses, which could include the argument that the injuries were caused by someone else.
Say you were injured in a car accident and had to have surgery which you think was poorly performed. Your doctor may claim that your injuries were caused by the accident, not his incompetence.
You may have gone to a doctor for help from a work-related injury. Maybe the treatment prescribed made your problem worse. Your lawyer must be able to distinguish damage done on the job from damage done by your physician’s negligence.
Thus it is extremely helpful if your lawyer has experience in other personal injuries besides malpractice, such as car accident suits or job-related issues.
3. Can I Reach You in a Crisis?
If you are suffering from health problems due to a doctor’s negligence, you may have unexpected and frightening consequences. More medical issues can arise, causing a domino effect on health. You want to be able to let your attorney know right away if things are getting worse.
Perhaps you are encountering other problems in your life as a result of your injury. Maybe you have been fired from your job because your injury prevents you from performing your duties without pain. Perhaps the injury is having a negative effect on your marriage and family relationships.
You need to be able to contact your lawyer whenever you have an urgent question or update which may affect the lawsuit.
Ask any prospective lawyer about the process of contacting her. Can you reach her by cell? Does she have an associate or assistant who can respond when she is unavailable?
4. What Credentials Do You Have?
Check out your attorney’s website to confirm his credentials. Make sure he went to an accredited law school. Make sure he is a member in good standing of the state bar in question. He must be licensed to litigate in the court where the suit will be filed, which may be where the injury occurred.
Look to see if he has received any accolades from peers for his work. Has the local bar association or a ranking organization like Best Lawyers noted his acumen?
You can also find out the extent of his or her connections in the community. Lawyers who donate their time or resources to community causes command a respect in the legal and business worlds which can bolster their influence. You want a representative known by others to have integrity and a good reputation.
5. Can I Speak to Your Other Clients?
Many attorneys will include testimonials from happy clients on their website. Go one step farther and ask your prospective lawyer whether you might speak to someone whom he has represented.
You will want to hear their story, including any complaints they may have had. You want to know how the attorney acted under pressure. You may also want to ask about how payment worked, and whether they were satisfied with the legal services they received.
Choosing the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney: It Can Make All the Difference
Suffering from injuries caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, EMT or other professional is distressing and frightening. You put your life and health into the hands of these people and you have the right to expect reasonable care.
If you have grounds to pursue a claim of negligence against them, you deserve a medical malpractice attorney who will treat you and your case with care as well. You want someone who is responsive and knowledgeable, and who has a strong track record of success in this area.
For more information on medical malpractice and other personal injury claims, check out our blog.
Seth Bader is an Auto accident, Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Rome, Savannah, Norcross, Carrollton, Georgia. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years. Seth Bader believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.