If you or your loved one has suffered serious injuries or death because of medical malpractice, you are probably wondering what you can do next. You may know you need legal representation but are unsure how to choose the best medical malpractice legal representative.
Medical malpractice cases usually are very complex and require an understanding of highly technical information. Thus, you should choose the best medical malpractice lawyer with extensive experience and a proven track record of success.
The information below will provide you some basic guidelines that will help you make an informed decision and choose a lawyer that is right for you.
What Should I Look for in a Medical Malpractice Legal Representative?
Choosing the right attorney can be a daunting task. Medical malpractice is a unique area of the law. Thus, winning medical malpractice lawsuits requires substantial technical knowledge.
Also, many states have created procedural roadblocks that make it difficult for plaintiffs to file medical malpractice claims.
Further, filing a medical malpractice claim means you will have to face an opposing legal team of the doctor's lawyers and insurance lawyers with substantial resources and industry knowledge.
Given these challenges, you will need an attorney who understands the relevant law and has the experience necessary to build a strong legal argument.
You should perform in-depth research to find the right attorney.
While researching, keep the following factors in mind to help inform your search.
1. Type of Lawyer
Medical malpractice legal representation normally fall into one of two categories:
- Lawyers who represent individuals injured by medical malpractice (plaintiff's lawyers), and
- Lawyers who defend doctors or insurance companies.
If you suffered injuries due to medical malpractice, you will likely need a plaintiff's lawyer to represent you.
Make sure that you do some research before you choose an attorney for your case. A quick internet search for attorneys in your area will likely yield a variety of results.
Don’t be afraid to browse a few websites or call some firms directly to ensure that you select a plaintiff’s lawyer who can effectively represent you and your particular interests.
Lawyers with experience in medical malpractice lawsuits will understand the relevant law and have familiarity with standard medical procedures and practices.
While researching, look for attorneys or law firms that concentrate on medical malpractice. Read their biographical information, and search their website for articles or blog posts related to medical malpractice. If these articles appear informative and helpful, this likely means they have a practice focused on medical malpractice.
You can also ask your prospective attorney questions to determine if he or she has the proper level of experience, such as:
- How extensive is your knowledge of the medical field?
- How many medical malpractice cases have you handled?
- What types of medical malpractice cases have you handled?
- How many have you won?
- Do you have experience taking cases to trial?
- What was your most recent medical malpractice settlement?
Your research will likely inform you about a particular attorney's legal practice and whether he or she can provide you effective legal representation for your case. An attorney’s ability to effectively answer these questions will provide you with a great deal of insight into their ability to handle your particular medical malpractice case.
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3. Professional Reputation and Client Reviews
An attorney's professional reputation will provide you important insights into their ability to win a case. Not only do attorneys with strong reputations in the legal community have experience, but their experience has also gained the respect of their peers.
You should look for lawyers who belong to trial attorney associations and learn whether they have received awards or hold leadership positions in those organizations.
Some relevant attorney's associations in New Jersey include:
- Trial Attorneys of New Jersey,
- American Board of Trial Attorneys, New Jersey Chapter,
- American College of Trial Lawyers, and
- American Board of Trial Advocates.
You can also contact the New Jersey Bar Association to check if the lawyer you are considering is in good standing.
In addition to attorney associations, you should check testimonials and reviews of the law firm you are considering. Often, the best indication of a reputable law firm will be the reviews and testimonials of its past clients.
Trust in the opinions and reviews of clients who have worked with these attorneys before. If a client is pleased enough with the representation they received to write a review, this will generally be a good sign.
4. History of Success
You want to focus your research on lawyers with a proven track record of success. Experience and reputation are important, but they do not always show whether an attorney is successful when representing clients.
Most law firms will have a section on their website listing their successes in previous cases. Review their website and consider the following:
- When was their last successful case?
- How much did they win for their client?
- What was the type of case?
Your case may be worth a significant amount of money. But only a skilled attorney is likely to get you the compensation you deserve.
You should keep in mind that attorneys will charge fees for legal services. The primary fee arrangements that an attorney might charge in a legal case include:
- Hourly rates,
- Flat fees, and
- Contingency fees.
One drawback for many people in deciding whether to hire an attorney is the potential cost. Under an hourly arrangement where you are paying for every hour of an attorney’s time, legal representation can get very expensive very fast.
Conversely, a flat fee arrangement is sometimes preferred over an hourly arrangement, as you will know up front what your payment obligation will be. However, in a medical practice case, where issues are complex and reaching a resolution can take months and even years, many attorneys will not be likely to offer a flat fee.
Fortunately, most attorneys operate on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that you will receive legal services free of charge until your case settles or you receive a winning verdict in court.
If you do not receive a favorable verdict or you do not receive compensation, you will not owe your attorney any fees for their services.
Thus, you only have to pay if you win or settle your case. And even then, you will only have to pay a portion of your settlement or court award. This can be a great option for those who may be entitled to recovery but who also may not be able to afford the financial ramifications of an hourly arrangement.
You should always discuss fees with an attorney before hiring them for your case. The ability to pay legal fees should never be a barrier to getting the recovery you deserve.
If you are worried about being able to afford legal representation, discuss fee options with various attorneys before deciding what might work best for you and your situation.
What Should I Do Next?
Once you have created a list of potential attorneys, you should begin contacting their law firms. You can call their offices or visit their website to schedule a consultation.
Many law firms will offer free consultations to get important information from you so that they can assess your case. Additionally, this consultation stage is a crucial step in the process for you. This will be your opportunity to interview potential attorneys you might be interested in so that you can find the right fit.
As discussed above, a medical malpractice case will frequently be a complicated and lengthy process. Thus, just as important as it is to find an attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced, it is also important to find one that you feel comfortable working with.
Make sure to effectively use your consultation to get the information you will need to make your decision.
When you contact law firms, use the following sets of questions to help you choose the right attorney:
- Do you work on a "contingency fee" basis?
- How many of your cases go to trial, and how many cases settle?
- Do you cover up-front costs during the lawsuit?
- How much of the work is done by the attorney?
- Do you offer free consultations?
Once you have chosen a law firm, schedule either a face-to-face appointment or a phone call so you can discuss the facts of your case and determine if you have a medical malpractice claim.
Contact a Qualified Medical Malpractice Legal Representative Today
If you or your loved one has suffered injuries due to medical malpractice, contact the law offices of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble today. Our award-winning attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing victims of medical malpractice.
Our dedicated staff will answer your questions and provide you the support and legal advice you need. We will protect your interests and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.