How to Choose the Best Medical Malpractice Attorney
When you visit a doctor, you expect to receive fair and honest treatment that helps you recover from an ailment or condition. Likewise, you don’t expect to suffer harm at your doctor’s hands. But, unfortunately, sometimes a doctor is negligent and makes a mistake that injures or worsens your condition. When this happens, you need the help of a skilled attorney.
When you or a loved one has been harmed by the negligence of a medical practitioner in New York City, you need to act quickly. Contact the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos to schedule a free consultation.
What to Look for in a High-Quality Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice is a complex field of law. Attorneys who practice this type of law must have a deep understanding of the medical field regarding professional guidelines and the science involved in conditions and their diagnoses. In addition, winning a case requires proving professional negligence and medical harm.
Because it is a complex field, you typically want a lawyer with years, if not decades, of experience handling these cases. Without significant experience, the attorney will have to spend time researching the facts and may run up against the tight deadlines to act on medical malpractice cases in New York.
Furthermore, you want an attorney with a record of winning these cases; this is particularly important for medical malpractice cases since, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), defendant doctors win roughly 80% of cases. Therefore, you need to improve your odds by working with a lawyer with a better success record.
Finally, it would help if you had a compassionate lawyer. When you have been harmed by medical malpractice, you are likely to be suffering and in pain and may be unable to leave your bed; this makes the prospect of dealing with a protracted legal battle daunting.
You need an attorney who understands your hardship and will make the legal process as stress-free as possible. A good lawyer will keep you informed without constantly requiring you to assist. On the other hand, attorneys who don’t respect your pain or your time could make the case unbearable.
Questions to Ask a Potential Medical Malpractice Attorney
No matter how much online research you do or how many past clients you speak with, you can’t honestly know how good a lawyer is until you have a heart-to-heart with them. So before you choose a medical malpractice attorney, you should ask them several questions and use the answers to help make your decision.
Everyone will have different things that are important to them, but the following questions are typically good ones to ask.
How Often Do Your Medical Malpractice Cases End in a Settlement or at Trial?
Whether your case goes to trial or ends in a settlement will significantly affect its results. Typically, cases that go to trial last years longer than cases ending in a settlement. And as previously noted, defendants win at trial more often than litigants. However, individual attorneys have different records of outcomes.
Even if the lawyer you’re speaking with typically wins their trial cases, if your case goes to court, you will likely win a lot more money (if you win) than you could get from the best settlement. But you’ll have to wait years to receive that money.
If your case ends in a settlement, you will likely get only a fraction of what you hoped. However, it will almost certainly take less time, and you won’t be subject to the whims of a jury. Ultimately, knowing which course is more likely is critical. Then, you can plan for expected outcomes regarding time and compensation.
How Much Do You Charge?
Nearly all medical malpractice lawyers take their cases on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they win money for you. However, that doesn’t mean they all charge the same amount.
Contingency fee percentages vary widely; some attorneys will charge a higher rate depending on whether the case goes to trial. Therefore, it is a good idea to sit down and do some math once you know how much it will cost, possibly with the assistance of a good accountant. If the lawyer’s fee is too much, you might be in a worse position by hiring them.
How Much of the Work Will You Do Personally?
As previously noted, medical malpractice cases are very complicated. The more experience an attorney has with the practice area, the less research they are likely to have to do and the more they understand the pertinent laws.
Assistants like paralegals and support staff usually have less familiarity with malpractice law than the lawyers they work for. As a result, if they are doing the lion’s share of the work in a case, it will often take longer.
Attorneys have paralegals and assistants for a reason. Inevitably, some documents or motions will be drafted by support staff. But even when this is the case, you want your lawyer to put eyes on every document created by the law office.
While the attorney probably can’t tell you precisely how the work will be split, they should be able to tell you roughly how much work they do and how involved they are with the cases they take. But, again, if you aren’t comfortable with the answer you get, you should move on to another lawyer.
What Kind of Connections Do You Have with Experts in the Medical Field?
It is almost impossible to win a medical malpractice case without soliciting the testimony of a medical expert. But experts don’t grow on trees. They can be challenging to find, and many don’t have the time to devote to providing opinions on civil cases.
The most effective malpractice attorneys cultivate relationships with medical experts so that they will be more willing to act as expert witnesses when needed. Preferably, your attorney will be associated with dozens of medical professionals across multiple fields of medicine. And the best lawyers will at least know the names of nearly all local doctors.
Additionally, it would help if you asked about the attorney’s relationship with any medical professionals they work with. They likely pay for expert advice, but it matters how much they pay and whether they pass those costs on to you or absorb them as part of their standard fee.
What Hours Are You Available, and How Can I Contact You?
The days of only being able to speak to a lawyer in person from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays are long gone, and for most attorneys, business hours run into the night and cover weekends. You can contact some law firms 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays. Furthermore, there are more ways to reach people today than there were even 25 years ago. Many lawyers can be contacted:
- By phone
- On Twitter
- On Facebook
- Using online chat
- By text messages
- Via direct messages
- Using traditional mail
Some attorneys will make themselves available whenever you need them using whatever communication is most convenient. But you don’t need every form of communication or 24-hour access. You just need the lawyer to be available during convenient hours via your preferred communication platform. That’s why you should ask this question.
Tell Me About Yourself
Technically, this isn’t a question, but it is at least as important as any question you can ask. Every lawyer has a different personality. You will get along better with some lawyers than you will with others.
You can choose an attorney based on skill without concern for personality, but that’s not the best idea. If you mesh well with your lawyer’s character, the case will probably be much more pleasant.
Finding the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney Is Critical
New York City has thousands of attorneys. You could spend years interviewing every lawyer to find the perfect fit for your malpractice case. But, unfortunately, you can’t afford that time.
Remember, malpractice cases are rarely simple. They require carefully reviewing your medical records and other documents before filing a lawsuit. If you are a New York resident, the statute of limitations imposes a deadline to initiate a medical malpractice claim. This deadline is typically 30 months after the alleged malpractice occurred. But, even 30 months is not much time for investigating and building a successful medical malpractice case.
If you believe you or a family member has suffered due to medical malpractice in New York, contact our team at Silberstein, Awad, and Miklos today for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys.