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Medical Malpractice Law Information Center

How to find the best Medical Malpractice lawyer

Whenever you want to file a legal claim against a doctor or a hospital, you should have a good medical malpractice lawyer. Below are the tips that will help you find the best medical malpractice lawyer.

Looking for an experienced lawyer to represent you in a medical malpractice case is more critical much more than in a normal personal injury case such as those caused by car accidents or slip and fall mishaps.

Since medical malpractice is a relatively rare specialty, most of the lawyers do not spend their time handling them. Are you asking yourself how you can find an experienced, reliable and qualified medical malpractice lawyer? If the answer is a big yes, read on to find out more.

Ask a lawyer you trust for a recommendation

One of the best ways of finding a good malpractice lawyer is asking a lawyer you trust to recommend one. Even though your lawyer may not have dealt with a malpractice or personal injury case before, he or she knows where you can find good malpractice lawyers lawyer to lawyer networking and contacts.

If you don’t have a lawyer or you don’t know any lawyers, it is a good idea to ask a close friend or relative who has used a lawyer before for a recommendation. Most of the lawyers will be happy to help.

Call your state or local bar association

Most of the local and state bar associations provide lawyer referral services to connect potential clients with qualified lawyers. For a lawyer to be listed in a bar association he or she has to demonstrate a certain level of experience in their field.

If you want to be connected with a lawyer, all you have to do is to call the bar association and request them to refer you to a reliable, experienced and qualified lawyer.

Use the internet to do your own research

Most of the websites including this site have a way of connecting with lawyers by specialty. All you need to do is to submit an email request with some general information about your case and wait for a call from qualified, local lawyers.

What should you ask the lawyer?

When looking for a medical malpractice lawyer, it is important to find out if the lawyer is experienced in dealing with medical malpractice cases and see if you are comfortable with the medical malpractice lawyer’s personality.

How experienced is the lawyer?

Before deciding to work with a medical malpractice lawyer, it is good to ensure that you choose one with significant experience in medical malpractice. It is not a must that you choose a lawyer specialized in medical malpractice. You can also choose one who has a significant percentage of cases devoted to medical malpractice.

Start by asking a lawyer about his or her experience in medical malpractice cases. What is the number of malpractices cases that the lawyer has dealt with? For how many years has the lawyer been dealing with medical malpractice cases? How many of these cases have settled?

How big are the previous medical malpractice settlements? Has the lawyer handled any medical malpractice cases? If the answer is a yes, how many? Has the lawyer won any medical malpractice trials? If the answer is a yes, then how many?

Finding something about medical malpractice trials can be partially a tricky question. You have to know that many of the medical malpractice cases usually end up with a defense verdict.

Therefore, you should not expect that the lawyer will have won most of his or her trials. However, you need to be careful and avoid choosing a lawyer who has not won any medical malpractice trial before.

How will the lawyer find medical experts?

Most of the medical malpractice cases will need a medical expert as a witness to prove that the defendant health care provider was negligent. Without having a qualified medical expert as a witness and show that the defendant was negligent, then your case will most likely be dismissed.

Medical malpractice lawyers know about this and that is why they know where they can find a medical expert in any specialty. If you ask a lawyer where he or she will find medical experts and she tells you that he or she will look around and get one, then it is a good idea to continue searching for another lawyer as he or she is not good for you.

Some of the malpractice lawyers use medical expert witness services for malpractice cases while others are experienced in what they do and have names and contacts of several doctors in almost every specialty. Ensure that a lawyer gives you an answer that shows that he or she knows what to do.

Are you and the lawyer a good fit?

This questions can be as important as the lawyer’s experience and competency. If you can’t stand your lawyer, or if you and the lawyer just cannot go along, look for another lawyer or you may end up having a terrible experience.

To find out if you and your lawyer are going to be a good fit, assess yourself and the lawyer. Are you the kind of person who will hand the case to the lawyer with instructions for him or her to call you when it is over? Or do you want the lawyer to give you updates and advice from time to time?

Knowing who you are and what you expect from the lawyer will help you select the type of lawyer who is the best fit for you. Lawyers come in all types, just as people do. Some lawyers are curt and brusque while others are warm, friendly, and touchy-feely.

Although these lawyers might be equally effective in making sure that their client is compensated, they have totally different relationships with their clients. So, it is up to you to decide the kind of relationship you want with your lawyer.

How much will a medical malpractice lawyer cost?

Filing medical malpractice cases is very expensive. After you have found some lawyers, discuss the fee arrangement with the lawyer. The next page will help you understand how these contingency fee structures work.

The most important question for those who want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is; “How much will I have to pay the lawyer?” The answer may be encouraging for those who are victims of sub -standard health care.

This is due to the fact that medical malpractice attorneys usually provide free initial consultations in which they discuss what the process of suing might be like and the likelihood that the case will succeed. If the lawyer decides to represent you, he or she will not need any payment unless the case is successfully resolved either through a settlement or a jury award.

Common Fee Arrangements For Medical Malpractice

Contingency fees are used by a majority of medical malpractice lawyers.  Whenever a contingency fee is used by a lawyer, the entire attorney’s fee is paid in the form of a percentage of the case’s settlement or award.  Therefore, if the patient loses a case that ends up going to trial, the lawyer does not have to be paid a fee.

The percentage of the award that the lawyer receives can vary.  However, the most common is a 33% contingency fee of the settlement or award.  Some arrangements may use different numbers for various situations. For example, an arrangement may have a 33% contingency fee when the case settles without a trial, and a 40% contingency fee with the case does go to trial.

Another consideration is who is responsible for paying litigation costs, since they can be quite substantial at times.  Those costs include obtaining hospital medical records, court filing fees and hiring expert witnesses.  Agreements are used by many lawyers that stipulate that litigation costs will at least initially be paid by the lawyer.

For example, a lawyer and patient may agree on a 33% contingency fee, and the lawyer will pay the litigation costs up front.  However, if the litigation is successful, these litigation costs will first come out of the award.  So if a case were to settle for $100,000 and the litigation costs were $10,000, the lawyer would first get reimbursed for the litigation costs from the settlement money, which would leave $90,000.  Then the lawyer would receive a $30,000 contingency fee, and the patient would receive the remaining $60,000 from the settlement.

Important Things For Patients To Consider

The most important thing that all patients need to keep in mind is that lawyer’s fees are almost always negotiable.  So if you are thinking about hiring a certain lawyer, ask yourself why you are wanting to hire them.  Are they the most experienced and best attorney? Could you hire a different lawyer at a lower price?

Many patients don’t consult with at least five different attorneys to compare qualifications and prices.  However, just because many people don’t do it, doesn’t mean why you cant.  So if you have a potential medical malpractice case, it definitely can pay to shop around for the best lawyer.  Initial consultations are usually free.

Other terms are negotiable in addition to the fee percentage.  For example, an attorney might propose an agreement requiring the patient to pay for any litigation expenses as they occur.  In this type of situation, a patient may consider trying to do some bargaining, and tell the lawyer that he can likely get better terms from someone else, and that it would be much more preferable if the attorney paid for the litigation costs up front, and then the lawyer would be reimbursed for those costs if the patient receives a settlement award or judgment.

Legislative Attempts For Changing Fee Arrangements For Medical Malpractice

Some medical malpractice reformers have argued that having large contingency fees contributes to driving healthcare costs up.  This has resulted in some states passing laws that restrict contingency fees for medical malpractice cases.  These states include Wisconsin, Tennessee, Connecticut, Florida and California.

The details of these various laws vary, however some of these laws are quite simple and straightforward. A law may cap attorneys’ fees at a maximum of 1/3 of the settlement or award for medical malpractice cases.

In other cases, laws might be more complications.  For instance a law was passed in 2002 in California that limited attorneys fees for medical malpractice cases at a maximum of 40% for the initial $50,000 that is recovered, and then 33% for the next $50,000, then 25% for the next $500,000 and then 15% for anything over $600,000.

No matter what the regulatory framework is in a certain state, it is very important for a patient to keep in mind that fees are always negotiable.  Even when a statute caps fees, a patient can still try to negotiate for an even lower fee.

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