How to Pick the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney
It is true that in order to become an attorney, an individual must graduate from law school and pass the bar exam. However, that does not make every attorney equally qualified to handle every legal matter. This is especially true in a specialized area of the law that requires technical knowledge.
A medical malpractice claim alleges that the defendant deviated from the accepted standards of medical practice and that that act or failure to act caused injury to the patient. Therefore, a plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney must be familiar with the applicable laws and must be able to understand the underlying medical information.
The plaintiff in a medical malpractice must prove all of the elements of his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. First, the plaintiff must prove that a legal duty existed between the defendant and the plaintiff. Then, the plaintiff must prove that the duty was breached because the defendant did not provide the accepted standard of care and that deviation from the standard of care was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Finally, the plaintiff needs to establish the damages that he or she is seeking.
In order to prove all of the elements of the case, the plaintiff will likely need to rely on expert testimony. Expert witnesses must be qualified and their proposed testimony must be reliable. It is the job of counsel to both prepare his or her own expert witnesses and to try to disqualify the other side’s expert witnesses.
In order to be able to adequately prepare or cross examine an expert witness, an attorney needs to have a sound understanding of the underlying medical terms, procedures, diagnoses and theories. For this reason, many medical malpractice attorneys have their own nurses, doctors or other medical professionals with whom they consult to learn about the relevant standard of care. Other medical malpractice attorneys are also medical doctors or registered nurses and thus have expertise in both law and medicine.
In most cases, the defendant in a medical malpractice case is a large malpractice insurance company. Insurance companies have deep pockets and can afford to spend a lot on legal defense. Therefore, it is important to have a plaintiff’s attorney who has experience litigating and settling medical malpractice claims.
Medical malpractice cases can take a long time to litigate and can have a profound impact on the plaintiff’s life. So, it is important to choose an attorney with whom you are comfortable and who you believe will take the time to answer all of your questions and represent you zealously.
Any attorney with whom you are interested in working should be able to give you examples of cases that he or she has successfully litigated or settled. The attorney should also be able to provide you with references.
When it comes time to retain an attorney, it is important to consider all of the factors described above so that you are comfortable and have the best chance of success with your medical malpractice claim.