Cases of medical malpractice are, sadly, all too common in today healthcare industry. They’re unpredictable, unfortunate, and frustrating – particularly for victims. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve experienced malpractice firsthand, you need to take swift action. First and foremost, this means hiring the right attorney to represent your best interests.
What is Medical Malpractice?
According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA), “Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.”
In order for an incident to be considered medical malpractice under the law, it must share a few specific characteristics. In particular, the burden of proof is on the victim to show that:
- The medical professional acted in a manner that specifically violated the accepted standard of care in his or her area of medicine and/or specialty.
- Another similarly trained professional would not have acted in the same manner or produced a similar outcome based on the specified treatment plan.
- As a result of this deviation from the standard of practice, the patient suffered some type of injury or negative outcome.
- The injury is shown to have contributed to an identifiable loss, such as medical bills.
Medical malpractice is a very general term that can be applied to thousands of different outcomes. Some common examples include: failure to diagnose; misdiagnosis; unnecessary surgery or procedure; misreading or ignoring important laboratory results; improper medication or dosage; poor aftercare follow-up; surgical errors; and premature discharge.
How to Find the Right Attorney for Your Claim
If you believe you’re the victim of medical malpractice, you need to act quickly and with great discernment. After switching doctors and getting the proper care you need, the most important step is to hire the right medical malpractice attorney to help with your claim. Here are some of things to look for in a good attorney:
The medical malpractice industry can be cutthroat. Hospitals and doctors have massive legal teams behind them. This means you can’t just hire any old lawyer and expect to win your claim. You need a medical malpractice attorney with years of experience pursuing (and winning) cases.
2. Medical Knowledge
Legal knowledge is a must, but it’s also helpful to have an attorney who has some medical knowledge layered on top. This helps the attorney with things like proper medical terms, knowledge of procedures and diagnoses, and an understanding of the proper duty of care.
Your best bet is to hire an attorney with both legal and medical degrees. Dr. Michael M Wilson M.D., J.D. of Alexandria, Virginia is one of the rare industry professionals who checks both boxes. His combined experience allows him to tackle a claim from both sides – giving him a distinct advantage in most cases. If you can find an experienced attorney like this, you’re in good hands.
3. Good Negotiation Skills
There’s a lot of back and forth that goes on in a medical malpractice claim. Typically one side throws out a dollar amount and then the other side responds with a higher or lower amount based on their desired outcome. This can go back and forth for weeks or months at a time. Having an attorney with good negotiation skills increases the likelihood of getting a good payout.
4. Litigation Experience
While a hefty percentage of medical malpractice claims end in a settlement, an agreement isn’t always reached. In these cases, medical malpractice claims go to litigation. Having an attorney with some courtroom experience increases your chances of winning.
5. Fair Fee Structure
While you don’t want to lead your search for a medical malpractice attorney with questions about fee structures, it’s certainly advisable to inquire about how an attorney will be compensated prior to entering into an agreement. Contingency fee arrangements are the industry norm, with a two-thirds-one-third split being the most common structure. (Your attorney collects 33 percent of the award.) There are, however, different structures – including flat-rate fee and hourly – so never assume anything.
Don’t Back Down
The entire process of filing a medical malpractice claim, meeting deadlines, supplying ample amounts of proof, and dealing with attorneys, paperwork, and endless bureaucratic policies is sure to tire you out. However, you owe it to yourself and your family to pursue your claim and be fairly compensated for your situation. The right attorney will help you seek justice and right the wrong. Don’t wait any longer!