When a doctor or other medical professional is the cause of injury, pain, or suffering that could have been avoided, you have a potential medical malpractice case. But despite what you might see on TV legal dramas, as few as 25 percent of plaintiffs in malpractice cases receive any compensation for their injuries. Medical malpractice is the most complex area of personal injury law, and because you only get one opportunity to present your case in front of a jury, it is imperative to select the right medical malpractice lawyer, one who specializes in litigating — and winning — complex malpractice cases.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a mistake on the part of a doctor or other medical professional that becomes “malpractice” only when certain conditions are present. These condition include the following:
- The existence of a doctor-patient relationship. This may seem obvious, but you must have a doctor-patient relationship in order to claim malpractice against a medical professional. If your friend is a doctor and has given you some advice over coffee, for instance, you cannot lodge a malpractice claim against him or her.
- A breach in the standard of care that constitutes medical negligence. The legal concepts of “standard of care” and “medical negligence” are crucial to your case. The “standard of care” is the generally recognized and accepted way that a doctor should handle a particular medical ailment. “Medical negligence” consists of a breach in the standard of care. The expert witness chosen by your attorney generally bears the responsibility of establishing both of these conditions.
- A causal connection between the provider’s negligence and the patient’s harm. Your attorney will have to prove that your doctor’s negligence in fact lead to the pain and suffering that you are experiencing. For example, if your doctor failed to order a test that is generally indicated for your condition, and yet that test wouldn’t have yielded anything instrumental in your particular case, you do not have a viable malpractice case (at least, on that point alone), because the failure to order the test did not lead to any measurable harm. Additionally, your lawyer must prove that the harm you’ve experienced is “quantifiable.”
What Does a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do?
A medical malpractice lawyer represents victims of medical negligence so that they can receive compensation for their injuries. Medical malpractice lawyers are also qualified to represent doctors who are accused of malpractice; therefore, they know the law from both sides of the equation.
Here are just some of the duties that your malpractice lawyer will undertake on your behalf:
- Research your condition and determine whether negligence was involved in your treatment
- Source expert witnesses
- Develop strategy and case theory in conjunction with medical experts
- Depose expert witnesses, medical personnel, plaintiff, and defendant
- Organize independent medical examinations of the plaintiff to get an objective account of his or her condition
Clearly, these complex tasks should not be left to anyone other than a lawyer who specializes in malpractice.
Why Do I Need an Attorney Who Specializes in Malpractice?
The importance of selecting the right malpractice lawyer to litigate your case cannot be overestimated. You will only have one opportunity to present your case in front of a judge and jury; you cannot appeal the decision. Therefore, it is imperative to choose a lawyer who has an excellent track record when it comes to winning malpractice cases.
A medical malpractice case involves much more than a broken wrist caused by a slip on an icy patch at the grocery store or a whiplash injury resulting from a fender bender. Medical malpractice can cause serious bodily harm — even death — sometimes as a result of multiple mistakes on the doctor’s part. If you’ve been injured by your doctor, you need a medical malpractice lawyer who has a sophisticated understanding of the medical field as well as the law.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer knows how to find the right expert witness to testify on your behalf. Proving negligence almost always requires the testimony of a qualified medical expert who can cogently and coherently explain to the jury why your doctor’s conduct consists of medical negligence.
Many doctors, however, are hesitant to testify against their colleagues. An accomplished medical malpractice lawyer will have worked with doctors on previous cases and will know how to find the right expert witnesses. Your case will hinge in large part on the quality of the testimony given by your expert witness, and they must be selected by a malpractice attorney who understands exactly what is needed in a courtroom setting.
Hiring a lawyer who specializes in malpractice gives you another strong advantage: It shows the defendant’s insurance company that you are bringing your A game. Insurers know all of the ins and outs of the law. It is their business to pay out as little as possible while still legally fulfilling their obligation as insurers. If they know they will be working with an inexperienced lawyer who is unfamiliar with malpractice law, that is an invitation for them to shortchange you.
On the other hand, they know that it is pointless to try to dupe an aggressive and seasoned malpractice attorney, and given that most malpractice claims are settled rather than brought to trial, a lawyer who specializes in malpractice is likely to get the job done as quickly as possible and achieve maximum compensation.
How Much Will it Cost to Litigate My Malpractice Claim?
There are various methods of payment that your attorney may use to charge for his or her services in a medical malpractice suit. Most malpractice lawyers are paid on a contingency basis; that is, the lawyer is paid a percentage of the money that you ultimately win. If you don’t win, the lawyer doesn’t get paid, so if he takes your case, you know that he believes you have an excellent chance of winning and will do everything possible to get you the best possible outcome.
Legally speaking, the lawyer may not charge more than 33 percent of your award. Some calculate the percentage on a sliding scale based on the amount you are suing for; others charge the same rate for every case.
Choosing a veteran medical malpractice lawyer will give you peace of mind that he is able to bear the upfront costs of litigating your case and will not abandon you midstream if things are not going well.
Accomplished Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Delaware County
If you believe that you have suffered needlessly because of a medical professional’s mistake, call the law firm of Donaghue & Labrum immediately. Our free consultation will give us the chance to evaluate your claim and determine if you have a viable case. We have won an impressive number of settlements and verdicts over the years which have helped our clients live more comfortably with their long-term medical issues.
We handle cases involving medication errors, delayed or wrong diagnoses, anesthesiology errors, failure to order tests, birth injuries, surgical errors, infections caught in a medical setting, failure to discuss risks or possible outcomes, and more. If you have any concern whatsoever that your illness may have been mishandled by a medical professional, call us today. Donaghue & Labrum specializes in medical malpractice litigation, so you can be sure that no aspect of your case will be left to chance. Call us today!