Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or healthcare professional responsible for your care acts in a way that falls short of what another qualified professional would do. Whether it’s negligence or a misdiagnosis, you’ll need an attorney to handle your malpractice case. Here are five steps to finding the lawyer that’s right for you.
- Perform local searches.
The first thing you should look for is an office relatively close to you, geographically speaking. It’s very important to have at least one face-to-face meeting with an attorney before deciding who to go with. Use search engines to find one in your area, contact state and county bar associations, or ask a friend for nearby recommendations.
- Carefully read available information.
Every law firm worth your time has some form of web presence. From websites to online reviews, check the reputations of all candidates very carefully. There’s a lot of information to mine here, from specific areas of expertise, to examples of winning cases they’ve worked on.
- Create a list of important points.
If you’ve found a firm or two you’re interested in, it’s time to consider how you’ll explain the situation to them. You want to avoid telling a meandering, nuanced tale; there will be time for that later. For the initial contact, make a bullet point list of facts concerning your case – where it happened, the dates involved, the professional whose care you were under, and all injuries and losses you’ve suffered.
- Ask your prospective attorney questions.
This might be the most important step. Malpractice cases can take a long time to be resolved, so you want to make sure your medical malpractice lawyer is someone you can see yourself sticking with. This is why the consultation is so critical – it provides you with the chance to ask the right questions. Ask what the firm’s biggest accomplishments are, inquire as to what resources they have at their disposal, and ask for their professional opinion on your case.
Always be sure that you’re speaking to the person who would actually be representing you, if possible, and procure detailed information about their credentials, any associations they belong to, or journals they’ve contributed to.
- Read the contract.
During your research or initial discussion, it should have become clear how the lawyer expects to be paid. Most malpractice firms work on contingency, meaning their money will come out of your settlement. Before beginning work on your case, the firm will require that you sign an agreement covering the terms of your arrangement with your malpractice attorney. Ensure that this contract states the lawyer will be paid in the manner which has been discussed prior to signing the contract.
When your doctor is negligent, the consequences can be staggering. If medicine has added insult to injury, you don’t have time to try and work it out on your own. Perform the five steps above as well as you can manage, and let a qualified medical malpractice attorney handle the details. With time, accurate records, and malpractice expertise, there may still be a satisfactory ending in store for you.