You might have arrived at this article because you’re thinking about hiring a medical malpractice lawyer. Perhaps you’re thinking of filing a lawsuit, and you’re educating yourself on malpractice. Or maybe you’ve recently been through a medical procedure gone wrong, and you’re trying to figure out where to turn with all your questions. Or maybe you have a loved one who has suffered a catastrophic injury.
Medical malpractice and negligence happen every day. In fact, according to Medical News Today, in the United States alone, there are between 15,000 and 19,000 medical malpractice suits against doctors every year. But unfortunately, there are a large number of lawyers who accept these cases with very little experience and medical knowledge. There are several “red flags” you need to know about when looking into filing a medical malpractice claim because the success or failure of your potential case depends on it.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer “Red Flags”
To properly arm yourself when you’re thinking of looking for a medical malpractice lawyer, there are certain red flags you should be watching out for:
Red Flag #1: Legal experience but no actual medical experience
There are many law firms that advertise that they pursue medical negligence claims on behalf of clients, but there are very few firms that actually work up the complex medical cases in order to go all the way to trial. Many of these firms lack medical expertise, and their lawyers will miss important medical details that could make or break a case. Having a physician on your case means they will intimately understand the details of your case and will be much better prepared to prepare a plaintiff’s case than a lawyer who has merely handled medical malpractice cases.
At Southern Med Law, firm leader Dr. François Blaudeau is both a doctor and a lawyer. His expertise as a physician and surgeon provides sophistication in understanding all medical issues, while his legal and trial expertise in representing patients in the courtroom makes his practice the role model for effective medical malpractice litigation. Southern Med Law is a litigation firm that prepares cases to go all the way to trial.
Red Flag #2: Specializes in personal injury but limited in medical malpractice experience
While personal injury trial experience and success is certainly important, medical malpractice lawsuits are a completely different animal. It is critical that the law firm you choose possesses years of experience litigating medical malpractice lawsuits. In addition, your lawyer needs to be able to refute or cross-examine an “expert witness” who is a medical professional.
Ask the firms you’re interviewing the following questions:
- How many medical malpractice cases has your firm taken all the way to trial?
- Who’s the medical expert in your firm?
- Do they have their medical degree and license?
- Have they spent time actually practicing medicine?
If the answers to these questions are vague, you may need to consider another law firm. When the trial lawyer is also a medical doctor, he can go toe-to-toe with another medical doctor effectively in a court of law.
Red Flag #3: Lawyers who drag their feet or seem unsure
Medical malpractice cases have a very specific statute of limitations, which carries a strict deadline for filing paperwork that initiates the lawsuit. In addition, there are many specific procedural requirements associated with a medical malpractice case – and they often differ State to State. These cases require the plaintiff to hire retained medical experts to speak to the standard of care and causation. These cases can be very expensive to bring and the law firm has to have enough resources to be able to properly work the case up. Some smaller firms just don’t want to invest the money and time to fully work up the medical negligence case.
Any law firm inexperienced in these areas will leave you hanging and will potentially cause you to miss critical deadlines or will not establish the necessary expert testimony.
The benefits of medical and legal experience all in one law firm
Hopefully, you are now better equipped to watch out for these legal “red flags” when conducting research on medical malpractice claims. It is a very special firm indeed that has both the medical and legal background to assist plaintiffs as they feel their way through the legal system.
Ask questions. Don’t just settle for the first lawyer you speak with. As a patient, you were wronged, and you owe it to yourself and your family to get the very best advice and representation you possibly can.