Before contacting a lawyer about a possible medical malpractice case, it is important to understand how these types of cases are evaluated by attorneys. Some cases are more intricate than others, however the following series of events are typical when trying to construct a claim. Before you approach legal counsel, read these tips below.
1. Meet for initial consultation – This first meeting will give your attorney a very good idea of what your claim is about and whether it has a good chance of making it through court. Medical malpractice cases are very intricate and involve understanding all the facts surrounding the injury. The initial consultation with an attorney will involve answering questions about what you think lead to your injury and the timeline of events. This will help your attorney make a preliminary evaluation about your claim and whether it is worth pursuing. Remember, medical malpractice cases are serious and it takes significant proof to win a lawsuit.
2. Record gathering – This step involves gathering all of your medical records by the attorney, not just the ones you think are related to your injury. Medical charts sometimes paint a different picture than a client’s description of events, which can lead to a dead-end case. It is essential for attorneys to gather all medical records, including x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other records to make sure that your claim is worth processing. Remember, medical malpractice lawsuits are based on facts, not emotional testimony.
3. Expert review – At this point, your lawyer will seek the expert knowledge of a medical professional to evaluate your medical records. This expert will be able to determine whether your case will succeed in court. In most cases, your lawyer will not tell you who the expert is, as some experts do not want to be contacted by the clients if they determine that there is no case. Essentially, the expert will determine if your medical care and treatment deviated from a reasonable standard of care. If so, you may have a case. To get further validation, a second expert will be sought to determine if your doctor’s mistakes actually made a difference in your health. For instance, say a doctor delayed a cancer diagnosis of his patient. Even if the patient’s medical records prove that the doctor could have diagnosed the patient months previous, it is possible that the delay did not change the prognosis of the patient’s cancer. If the expert believes that the delay did not change whether the patient’s cancer was curable, there is probably not a case and an attorney will not pursue it.
4. Value Assessment – Your attorney will make an estimation of the value of your case. This is a very early approximation, and therefore could be way off. Because of this, your attorney will likely not tell you what his early assessment of the value is. It is important for your attorney to put a value on the case, as it will determine whether it is worth it to pursue. Medical malpractice cases are very time exhausting and expensive. Your attorney will need to see whether you will get what you deserve at the end after all legal fees are paid. While this is a tricky aspect to determining the strength of a case, it is an important step in the process.
5. To take the case or to not take the case – If your attorney determines that your case is worth taking, you will be informed that the case will move to the next step. An attorney usually bases his or her decision on two things: whether it has been shown that your doctor did make a mistake and whether it is financially feasible for both you and your attorney to pursue.
If you believe that you have been injured because of medical malpractice, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Ingerman & Horwitz. We know how to construct your case and get you the compensation that you or your family deserves. We’re here to help.