The right malpractice attorney will restore your faith and help you get justice for what you have suffered
As a victim of medical malpractice, you have already experienced betrayal at the hands of a professional. You trusted medical providers to help you, to take care of your medical condition, and to provide you with quality healthcare. Instead, you have been injured, suffered damages, and are likely facing long-term consequences as the result of a professional’s negligence. Now you are being asked to trust another professional – a lawyer. If you are wary, suspicious, and finding it hard to trust a professional again, it’s certainly understandable. But knowledge is a formidable defense against fear and doubt. So arm yourself with the facts, and learn how to choose a malpractice lawyer that will help you get justice and move forward with confidence, as well as obtain the full and fair compensation that you need and deserve.
What to look for when selecting a malpractice attorney
You probably have a primary care doctor. That doctor is likely a general practitioner. A generalist may be a good fit for preventative care, routine exams, and minor illnesses. But once your primary care doctor identifies a possible significant health issue, both you and your doctor should be looking for an expert, someone who has dedicated training, schooling and experience in a specific area of practice. For example, when your primary care doctor listens to your heart and discovers an abnormality, it is time to find a cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the heart.
Finding expertise is just as important in legal representation. No lawyer can adequately handle situations in every legal practice area. And you undoubtedly are looking for much more than “adequate” for your medical malpractice claim. So, your first step in selecting a malpractice attorney is ensuring that the lawyer is indeed, a malpractice attorney. Begin your search by narrowing your choices to lawyers or firms that practice medical malpractice exclusively. And make sure that you are actually dealing with the person or firm you researched, not some standin or someone to whom the lawyer you contacted sends you.
Once you’ve identified attorneys who focus solely on medical malpractice, take a closer look at the following important criteria:
- Experience –Malpractice cases are complex. Choose an attorney with an extensive background in this field. Let a “newbie” learn the ropes on someone else.
- Medical Knowledge –Some medical or scientific background or training in a malpractice attorney is a great asset that enhances your lawyer’s ability to understand the terminology, diagnoses, medical records and more while working on your case. A malpractice attorney who cannot locate, review, and analyze medical journal articles is unlikely to maximize recovery in a malpractice case.
- Litigation and Trial Skills –Your attorney should have a successful history in settlement negotiations, litigation, and trial. He or she must always be prepared and willing to go to court when negotiations either break down or aren’t meeting the goals set by you and your legal team. Defense attorneys and insurance companies know which attorneys will try a case and which will fold on the courthouse steps. They’ll use this knowledge during negotiations.
- Caseload –Less is more. Don’t be lured by grandiose claims of multiple ongoing cases as evidence that an attorney is so in demand. Think about it. Do you want an attorney who’s stretched so thin, he has very little time to dedicate to your case? Not to belabor the point, but malpractice claims are very complicated. They require an extensive commitment of time and resources. Moreover, you want a legal team that’s responsive to your needs, your questions, and your concerns.
- Reputation –Turn to the local bar association. Check referrals, professional associations, prior verdicts, settlements, and successes. If an attorney is good at what he does, there’s a record of it. In Ohio, the Supreme Court lists on its website information about disciplinary actions taken against attorneys. The rating agency Martindale-Hubbell also rates lawyers by legal ability and ethical standards.
- Television –Be wary of attorneys who spend more time advertising their services or bragging on television or radio than in the courtroom. Don’t confuse slogans and exposure for results and talent.
- Fees/Payment arrangements –Make sure the attorney you choose works on a contingency fee basis. Medical malpractice cases are expensive. They’re time consuming and often require multiple expert witnesses to help prove your case. Select a firm that has the resources to fund your case while giving it their all. Most top-notch malpractice attorneys require no upfront payments from clients. If the attorney you have selected wants money from you to retain an expert, chances are he either doesn’t believe in your case or doesn’t have the resources needed to pursue it fully.
If you are looking for a skilled, experienced and knowledgeable Cleveland medical malpractice attorney, please consider The Eisen Law Firm, serving clients in Ohio since 1976. Our firm practices medical malpractice law exclusively and operates almost solely through word of mouth referrals. Call 216-687-0900 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation at no cost.