What Do Medical Lawyers Do?
Medical lawyers are attorneys who go to law school, and then later specialize in medical law. But what do medical lawyers do? Well, for starters…
They understand medical law better than other attorneys, things like:
- The standard of care doctors must uphold
- Terminology and procedures in the field
- Health law and regulations
It’s their job.
And most importantly, medical lawyers:
- Use their health law background to identify and prove negligence
- Negotiate a good settlement
- Win medical malpractice cases
That’s what good medical lawyers do – they help people get compensated in medical malpractice cases.
Note: Medical lawyers are commonly called medical malpractice lawyers or medical malpractice attorneys.
If you’re considering filing a lawsuit, it’s important to choose a lawyer who specializes in your type of case. A single lawyer can’t know everything there is to know about every specialty of law. That’s why it’s important to hire a medical attorney who’s spent much of their career focusing specifically on medical malpractice cases. That way, you’ll have access to more expertise and resources. And also, you’ll have a better chance of winning.
Just think about it. You wouldn’t see a cardiologist for a broken ankle, would you? Same goes for law. And firstly – speaking of health law – what exactly is medical malpractice?
What Exactly is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional fails to provide a reasonable standard of care to a patient, and the result is harm or injury. It happens when one of the hospital’s staff deviates from the standard of care, and is negligent. That may be misdiagnosis, a surgical error, a medication mistake, failure to treat – the list goes on.
A medical attorney is skilled in legality like any lawyer, but also in the medical field. They know the difference between normal vs negligent procedures. They understand the “standard of care” for the nurses and doctors treating you, the processes and intricacies of a medical malpractice lawsuit, and much more. Let’s hone in on the details. Follow along for more information!
How Can A Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help Me?
A medical injury may happen due to hospital error or malpractice. Willie King went in for surgery to amputate his leg but the surgeon removed the wrong leg. Talk about a surgical error! This case got a lot of attention for obvious reasons.
The medical lawyer who took on the case clearly had a fairly easy job, but not all cases are that clear cut. So let’s talk about that. How can your lawyer help you with your medical malpractice case? One of the first things a medical lawyer does at the beginning of a case, is the consultation. Your lawyer will:
#1 – Determine Whether Or Not You Have A Case
Let’s say you suffered harm because one or more medical professionals failed to provide the accepted standard of care. And this failure was a direct cause of your injury. Your next step? You’ll need to talk with a medical lawyer to review applicable health law and determine if there’s a valid basis for a lawsuit.
So what do you do? You set up a free consultation. Also, don’t forget about the time limits for filing medical malpractice cases, AKA the statute of limitations. The sooner you can determine whether or not you have a case the better.
#2 – Help You Gather Evidence
This is arguably the most important part of a medical lawyer’s job. If a patient was injured through medical error but you can’t show that to a jury, you don’t have a case. First, your lawyer will get all of the details they can from you. (Check out our tips for preparing for your first meeting.) They’ll also talk to any witnesses who can help support those details. They’ll also try to get the defendant’s story. However, if the defendant is working with a lawyer, they probably won’t say much.
Your medical lawyer will look at all of the medical records related to the incident. They’ll brush up on all applicable health law surrounding the case. They’ll talk to medical experts to get their opinion on what happened. States sometimes have different requirements for who can be an expert witness. Usually, the medical witness needs to be very specialized for the individual circumstance.
For example, if the injury was a result of heart surgery, you’ll probably need the opinion of a cardiovascular specialist. This qualified witness will help create a strong case. A specialized medical lawyer will have a network of resources to pull from.
#3 – Assist & Prepare You For Court
While gathering evidence, your medical malpractice attorney will share this information with you, the client. This will give you more information about your injury. Your lawyer will also explain your rights and the standard of care required by doctors and nurses. In addition to this, your attorney will:
- Hire a medical expert to serve as a witness to testify for you
- Send through the paperwork on time
- Communicate with the opposing party (more on this in the next section)
- Calculate how much you should be compensated based on your injuries and damages
Your medical malpractice lawyer will also help prepare their client to speak in court, should it come to that. They give their client as much information as they can. This support lets them speak their case clearly and effectively.
#4 – Negotiate A Fair Settlement
Not all lawsuits make it to court. More often that not, they’ll end in a settlement. Why? Because it tends to be more straightforward and is a much quicker process. But of course there are a lot of factors that can contribute to how long a lawsuit will take. Many defendants prefer to settle outside of court. This is the quicker and usually less expensive way to handle a lawsuit. And a lot of times they can avoid disclosure because of it.
If the two parties can negotiate a settlement, the victim will get a payout much faster. Many people have a large number of bills they’re trying to juggle after the injury. They’re most likely dealing with mounting medical bills. Not to mention possible loss of wages. Because of this, they may desire quicker compensation. A case that settles in court will usually get more money, but it may take years and years to get paid.
#5 – Represent You In Court
In court, medical lawyers are the ones who do most of the talking (thank goodness, right?). They know the language and will be able to talk about the case comfortably and with clarity. They present the gathered evidence and argue why you deserve compensation. The judge will rule out any evidence that can’t be used, and the jury will reach a verdict.
#6 – Help You Get The Right Type Of Lawsuit Payout
The payment will come in either a lump-sum payment or a structured settlement. A lump-sum is paid all at once upfront. A structured payment is spread out over years. This helps to ensure that a child with a lifelong disability, for example, has money when they grow up to continue caring for their condition.
A lump-sum payment is the least complicated and usually the popular choice. You can set up funds from that money to pay for the child’s future medical expenses. Some people who received a structured payment will even sell that for a lump sum payment at some point.
Why You Should Hire A Medical Lawyer
Remember comedian Dana Carvey? He’s one of the stars in Wayne’s World, if his name didn’t ring a bell. Well, many years back he was to have bypass surgery because of a clogged heart artery. But get this – the surgeon bypassed the wrong artery. Dana could have easily had another heart attack and died.
The discovery of this error led to an emergency surgery to repair the damage from the first surgery. It took Dana two years to recover from this terrible medical error. He sued the surgeon for $7.5 million. Now, here’s why you should hire a medical lawyer.
#1 – They Help You Calculate Compensation & Win Your Case
Thankfully Dana also made a recovery, but not all patients are so lucky. With some medical injuries the patient never fully recovers. They will need long-term medical care, medications, therapies, and assistive equipment. All these medical costs add up and completely change the quality of life someone can afford. Displaying the current and future medical costs you need compensation for is a medical lawyer’s job.
They need to gather as much information about the injury as possible. They then educate the jury on how this condition will need to be cared for throughout the person’s life. Without filing a lawsuit, these costs are entirely the patient’s responsibility. The medical lawyer works hard to prove that someone needs to be held responsible for the injury. Specifically, the guilty party must be responsible for the cost.
#2 – They’re Specialty Lawyers
It’s easier (and oftentimes smarter) to be a big fish in a little pond. When a lawyer only works on medical malpractice cases it becomes easier to perfect their craft. A general lawyer will have to stretch their knowledge across different niches. Because of this you’ll want a medical lawyer for your malpractice case. And not only that, but a medical lawyer who has previously worked on cases like yours. So say your child has cerebral palsy. Find a lawyer who specializes in cerebral palsy.
#3 – You Pay Your Lawyer Nothing Up Front
Most of the time, that is. Because most medical lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that unless you win the case, you don’t have to pay the law firm. This helps people feel more comfortable filing. It eliminates the risk of losing money without gaining any compensation.
When you hire an attorney you’ll sign an agreement of how payment will be established should you win the case. This will include any money the medical lawyer spent on putting together the case. Followed by a percentage of the payout as their legal fees.
What To Look For In A Medical Malpractice Lawyer
It’s not always easy to find the best medical malpractice lawyer for your case.
But this will help you know what to look for:
#1 – Superb Negotiation & Communication Ability
Choosing a lawyer who’s a good communicator is key. Your attorney should:
- Negotiate effectively
- Answer your questions well
- Explain things in a way you can understand
- And keep you properly informed from start to finish
If they’re good at all of the above and below, they’ll probably have a good online reputation. And that’s key.
#2 – Strong Reputation
In today’s digital age, a medical lawyer’s reputation is posted all over the internet. Just google their names and law firms. You should be able to find online reviews on Google my Business, Facebook, Yelp and many other platforms.
#3 – Substantial Experience
Find a medical lawyer with plenty of experience handling cases like yours. If you’re suing a doctor for a birth injury, you’ll want an attorney with a good birth injury track record. That is, winning and negotiating fair settlements for birth injury lawsuits. General personal injury experience, for example, wouldn’t cut it in this case. Only medical lawyers will do. Next up, resources.
#4 – The Right Resources
Your medical lawyer should have access to the resources you’ll need to build a strong case. That includes:
- Medical professionals and experts
- Experienced staff (paralegals, legal assistants, administrative personnel)
- And other professionals that can help you win your lawsuit
Now here’s the big one – fees.
#5 – Contingency Fees Are Usually Best
In most cases, your best bet is to find an attorney who’ll work on a contingency fee basis. That way, you won’t have to spend a dime unless you win. Whatever your choice, make sure you understand the fee structure and are comfortable with it before moving forward.
#6 – Good Availability
Choose a lawyer who is readily accessible and able to meet your needs. Many medical lawyers cannot give your case the time and attention it needs. Be aware of this and choose your attorney wisely.
Get The Help You Need
So, what do medical lawyers do? Well as you can see, they help people get compensation after tragic medical injuries. This compensation allows them to get the medical care that they need. The injured patient deserves to maintain the best quality of life that they can. Medical lawyers spend their career becoming experts in medical law. They know the standard of care for doctors and how to prove negligence.
If you or a family member have been injured due to medical malpractice or error, reach out to us. It’s important to hold people accountable for your injury. You deserve to give your family the best quality of life possible. The compensation from a medical malpractice case can help with this. You don’t need to be sure that you have a strong case before speaking to a medical lawyer. Contact us today.