If you have suffered an injury as the result of a negligent health care provider, you have the right to pursue compensation that pays for pain, suffering, medical expenses and lost income. Like any area of law, medical malpractice is complex, and for this reason, you need to take great care in finding the best attorney to represent you. Here are some tips for choosing a malpractice lawyer.
Look for Specific Experience and Knowledge
Medical malpractice falls under the broad scope of personal injury law; different types of injuries however, require different types of knowledge and skill. Not every personal injury lawyer will be well-suited to handle medical malpractice. You must choose a lawyer that focuses on these types of cases. The lawyer should have a deep understanding of medical issues. Many lawyers who specialize in medical malpractice have actually been licensed as medical doctors and this would be an ideal attorney.
Without a thorough understanding of your medical issues, the attorney will not be able to effectively represent you or perform effective cross-examinations.
Even though a large number of medical malpractice suits end up being settled out of court, the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, stresses the importance of selecting an attorney with trial experience. Since there is always a chance the case may go all the way to a jury, you do not want an attorney with little to no experience trying malpractice cases in court. Look for board-certified trial lawyers—they have the skill and expertise that can increase the amount of your award, whether your case is decided by a jury or out of court.
Have a Full Understanding of Fees
Many lawyers who handle this type of case work on a ‘’contingency’’ basis, meaning that payment will come from any settlement amount; if this is the case, it is important to find out how much the attorney will take from you. Many states have set regulations in place governing what percentage of an award attorneys are entitled to. Some lawyers may charge upfront fees that you are responsible for, such as retainers. When meeting with potential candidates, it is important to inquire about fees and have the full picture as far as your financial responsibility goes.
Go with Your Gut
While logic will rule when it comes to choosing the best medical malpractice attorney, do not ignore your feelings completely. You will be working with this person closely and your financial future is in his hands. If you have a bad feeling about a particular candidate, see if you can get to the bottom of it with more questions. Pay careful attention to how the attorney interacts with you during consultations—does he seem knowledgeable about medicine and your particular circumstances? Is he willing to answer your questions and is he doing so thoroughly? There are plenty of qualified lawyers who will happily take your case, and while time is of the essence, there is no reason to settle for an attorney that you do not feel comfortable working with.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about various legal topics.