There are few things in life more terrifying than undergoing a major medical event. Whether it is from an accident or a health condition, we rely on medical professionals to deal properly with these issues. However, just as with any other practice or profession, doctors make mistakes too.
Unfortunately, when a medical practitioner makes a mistake, it can have life-altering (or, in the worst case scenarios; life-ending) consequences. In these cases, a medical malpractice attorney may be called for. Here are some of the ways they will look out for your best interests if you or a loved one has experienced a malpractice incident:
1. They Can Help Determine Whether You Have a Case
Before you can think about filing a malpractice case, you will first have to determine if you have a genuine cause for one. A malpractice lawyer is invaluable to your rights as a patient or next of kin.
There is so much information and evidence that must be gathered, so many witnesses and experts that need to be spoken with, and mountains of reports and data to be gone through, that it can just become overwhelming to someone who is already dealing with whatever medical issue brought the case up initially.
There are several ways medical incompetence can affect you; misdiagnosis/mistreatment, receiving an unauthorized procedure, treatment, or surgery, a breach of confidentially, and many others. A qualified attorney will be able to determine if you are entitled to compensation as a result.
2. They Understand the Requirements to Prove a Malpractice Case
Not all medical mistakes or missteps constitute a malpractice case. Various, specific criteria must be met to make a case. A seasoned malpractice lawyer will be aware of these and know how to determine if they meet the standards set forth by law. The main 4 criteria consist of:
- Duty of care
- Deviation from the standard of care
- Damage as a result of negligence
Any one or all of these factors are crucial in determining what type of malpractice case you have and how easy or difficult it will be to prove. Gathering as much information as possible early and quickly is key to developing a strong case from the beginning. That is where a medical malpractice attorney is irreplaceable.
3. They Are Aware of What Damages to Claim
Different types of malpractices mean you are entitled to different types of awards and amounts. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys know what to go after in a settlement, as well as in court.
You may be entitled to lost wages at work but not pain and suffering in some cases. In others, you may be entitled to special damages or, in the most extreme cases of malpractice; punitive damages.
*Punitive damages are awarded as punishment for grossly negligent conduct on behalf of the defendant(s)*
4. They Have Access to Expert Witnesses
Most malpractice cases will rely heavily on expert testimony. Lawyers who specialize in medical cases usually have a roster of qualified specialists ready to testify when needed. Certain requirements must be met by an expert witness.
For example, if you were harmed by a cosmetic surgeon, your expert witness would not only need to be a skilled plastic surgeon but more experienced than the defendant in your case. That way, his knowledge of the treatment or procedure and what went wrong would exceed that of the doctor in the question of malpractice, giving your witness more credibility.
*Additionally, this witness would need to be able to relay that information to a jury in non-medical terms that they could easily understand*
5. They Are Already Familiar with and Have Contacts with Insurance Companies and Providers
Medical malpractice attorneys and their staff are highly experienced in dealing with insurance companies and their lawyers. And once you take on legal representation, you no longer have to speak with the insurance companies directly; in fact, they aren’t allowed to contact you anymore (they are required to go through your attorney at that point).
This takes a tremendous amount of pressure and concern off of you, as you won’t need to worry about misspeaking and saying something to hurt your case or being pressured into accepting an unfair settlement.
Although your lawyer will bring every offer made by the insurance company to your attention, he/she will also advise you against agreeing to any settlements that are less than what you are entitled to.
6. They Have Experience in the Courtroom
Not all cases go smoothly and end in an agreeable settlement with the insurance providers. Sometimes, unfortunately, you will have to go to court over the issue. When that happens, you don’t want an inexperienced lawyer getting on-the-job training on your dime. You also don’t want someone without the proper skill set representing you in court.
*When it comes to protecting your rights following medical malpractice, having proper representation in court is one the most important ones*
7. Their Success Is Your Success
Since most reputable malpractice lawyers are paid a percentage of the client’s (you) compensation, the only way they make money is to get you a reasonable settlement for your medical malpractice experience. Serving your best interests and looking out for you serves their best interests in the way of compensation for their work and efforts.
And the fact that you won’t have to come up with out-of-pocket expenses or fees upfront allows you to hold off on the insurance companies’ early, subpar offers and allows your attorney the time to work to get you a fair settlement.
Other Ways Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Sometimes, just having someone on your side who knows the ins and outs of these types of cases can be of great comfort. Keeping you informed and letting you know what to expect every step of the way is one of the ways malpractice lawyers help you stay focused and determined, even during a sometimes difficult process.
*And if you need additional medical treatment, many times they can provide a quailed referral as well*
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