A medical malpractice attorney helps an individual file a lawsuit after they have been harmed in a healthcare setting.
When an individual claims that a doctor is responsible for their injury, or a loved one’s death, the hospital rarely sees it the same way. They may decline to offer any sort of compensation, or offer a meager amount that doesn’t come close to making things right.
The difference between getting the support you deserve and being stuck with unjustified medical expenses often hinges on hiring a medical malpractice attorney.
The time that you have to file a claim is limited and varies from state to state. Here is a step-by-step process for hiring a medical malpractice attorney who can help you build your case as soon as possible.
7 Steps to Hiring a Medical Malpractice Attorney
- Prepare for the long-term
- Understand the crime
- Determine the type of medical malpractice
- Leverage personal connections
- Narrow down the field
- Make contact with an appropriate firm
- Select the best candidate
1. Prepare for the long-term
A successful medical malpractice lawsuit can provide meaningful compensation to a victim and their family, but it takes time. Even after you have successfully hired a great medical malpractice attorney, negotiations with hospitals and insurers can drag on for months, even years.
If the medical malpractice has resulted in a permanent injury, or a condition that is getting worse, these delays can cause an incredible amount of stress. Victims may be depleting their savings for an injury that never should have happened. Justice cannot come soon enough.
Hiring a medical malpractice attorney is a step in the right direction. Prepare for the long-term by:
- Building out your support network
- Maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough sleep
- Setting a realistic timeline and realistic expectations
2. Understand the crime
Medical malpractice is a crime. When it occurs, those responsible need to be held accountable, and those injured need compensation and support.
Care in hospitals will not improve if mistakes remain hidden. Bringing your claim forward with the help of an attorney is part of the fight to make sure that more patients don’t suffer similar outcomes in the future.
The law that governs medical malpractice varies from state to state, but in general, there are 4 essential aspects to every claim:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship
- A standard of care was violated (negligence)
- An injury was caused by the violation
- The injury resulted in damages
All hospitals pledge to provide the highest standard of care and to ensure that safety protocols are in place to limit preventable harm. When doctors or staff deviate from best practices, it’s known as negligence.
If a doctor’s negligence led to significant harm, they have broken the law.
When you eventually make contact with a medical malpractice attorney, they will ask you questions associated with these 4 aspects.
Even if you don’t know the exact standards of care that were violated, it is important to find out as much as you can about your injury and those allegedly responsible. It will also help you with the next step.
3. Determine the type of medical malpractice
Medical malpractice is an umbrella term that covers a range of different case types. Some of the most common lawsuits in this category include:
- Birth Injuries
- Cerebral Palsy
- Chemical Birth Defects
- Erb’s Palsy
- Failure to Diagnose Cancer
- Improper Treatment
- Medication Error
- Sexual Abuse
- Surgical Error
Medical malpractice attorneys typically specialize in a particular type of case. As you begin to browse online, use keywords associated with your condition.
For example, “medical malpractice failure to diagnose cancer,” will yield search results that better correspond with your needs. Similarly, you could also try looking for the type of attorney you need in your specific area, like "Boston birth injury lawyer" or "Boston medical malpractice lawyer."
From here you can start to evaluate your options. Note how different firms approach the subject and what they offer. Start building a list of questions based on what you discover.
4. Leverage personal connections
At any point in the process, it can be extremely helpful to talk with people you know about your potential case. This is a sensitive subject, and you may not feel comfortable sharing details, but you should try to use personal connections in your search.
You need not know any medical malpractice attorneys directly. Friends and acquaintances may be able to recommend an attorney or point you to someone who has used their services before.
Even if they don’t help you find a medical malpractice attorney, people who have been through the process of filing a claim themselves can provide helpful perspective and support.
5. Narrow down the field
Once you feel like you have identified the right type of medical malpractice attorney, it’s time to trim your findings down to a list of good potential candidates.
Here are some of the factors you should consider:
- Are the attorney and/or the firm in good standing? Make sure that you entrust your case to people who have a good reputation with local, state, and national law associations.
- How much experience do they have with your case type? Some firms handle medical malpractice cases among other practice areas. It’s a good sign if they have been advocating for victims for many years, and even better if they have announced settlements or verdicts for patients with an injury like yours.
- Where are they located? Since case law and regulations vary from state to state, it is necessary to have an attorney who understands the specific legal process that will govern your case.
- What is the cost? The best medical malpractice attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, which means they don’t charge you for representation. Instead, they collect a portion of any potential settlement. This means you have no upfront costs, as the attorney only makes money if your case is successful.
6. Make contact with an appropriate firm
Once you have a shortlist of medical malpractice attorneys that satisfy all of your requirements, it’s time to reach out and speak with them or their firm directly.
If you can’t make contact on your first try, it’s a red flag, as reliable communication will be important every step of the way.
As you share your story and discuss your case, listen to your gut. Does the person on the other end of the line make you think that your case will be in good hands? Are they sensitive to your concerns and knowledgeable about the path forward?
Chances are you will not be speaking with an attorney in the first phone call, but that individual is still a representative of the firm. The experience may indicate how you will be treated in the future.
If you have a good response, you may have found the right firm. If you are having second thoughts after you make contact, it’s probably best to try the next option on your list.
7. Select the best candidate
Whatever you do, don’t feel pressured into making a choice. If you make contact with every firm on your shortlist and you don’t feel like you have found the right option, don’t settle.
You may also find that the attorney you want is unable or unwilling to take your case.
If you have to go back to step 5, that’s fine. You know a lot more than you did before, and it will make your next search faster and more productive.
Once you establish a healthy connection with a medical malpractice attorney that’s experienced in your case type, move forward with confidence. You have done everything you can to ensure that you are making a wise choice.
Sokolove Law Is Here to Help
As a nationwide law firm with 40 years of experience helping victims of medical malpractice, Sokolove Law is ready to help you.
Over the years, we have gone toe-to-toe with the biggest insurers and most powerful medical institutions in America. We advocate for individuals who have been hurt so that their voice is not drowned out by another large legal team.
Sokolove Law, and the people we represent, are working together toward a safer and more just future.
Contact us today to get started.