What To Expect At The Consultation With a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Most medical malpractice lawyers will offer a free legal consultation for people who think they might have a legal claim. Here's what to expect, and how to prepare.

If you think that you might have a medical malpractice case, the first order of business - after some of your own research - is usually to find a medical malpractice lawyer for legal advice on your case. Fortunately, it shouldn't be hard to find qualified lawyer who will discuss the details with you at no charge. You will want to talk with and ultimately meet with one or more medical malpractice lawyers before hiring one. Here is what to expect when meeting with a medical malpractice lawyer for the first time.

The Most Important Thing: The Lawyer Needs Details of What Happened

Be prepared to do a lot of talking. The lawyer needs to know what happened, and will want to know a lot of details.

Any legal case must be based on the facts, and medical malpractice cases are no exception. Further, the facts in a medical malpractice case often include complicated medical terms and procedures, which is why you need a specialist lawyer in the first place. You need to be prepared beforehand so that you can give the lawyer all of the facts that he/she needs to decide whether to take your case or not. In order to best prepare yourself for the meeting, you should do the following things:

  • make a list of all of the health care providers that you have treated with for the condition in question
  • summarize your relevant medical treatment in writing (in not more than a couple of pages)
  • gather relevant correspondence and documents to bring to the lawyer’s office
  • make a list of questions to ask the lawyer, and
  • decide what you are looking for in a medical malpractice lawyer.

Let’s look at these things in a little more detail.

Make a List of All Your Health Care Providers

Victims of medical malpractice generally have seen a lot of health care providers, from doctors to hospitals to different kinds of therapists to diagnostic test centers. A medical malpractice lawyer will ultimately need to request records from every single health care provider that you saw for the condition. The best way to help the lawyer with this task is to make a list of who you have seen.

Summarize Your Relevant Medical Treatment in Writing

You don’t need to write a twenty page essay on this, but you should be able to summarize the main points of your treatment in a couple of pages. You would want to focus on when your condition first arose, who you saw for the condition, what happened, what you think that the doctor in question did wrong, and who you saw to get cured. Preparing a short crib sheet will help you keep your treatment straight when answering the lawyer’s questions about what happened.

Gather Relevant Correspondence and Documents

The relevant documents in any malpractice case include the following:

  • any medical records and letters from doctors that you might happen to have in your possession
  • medical bills
  • photographs of your condition, if relevant
  • the name, contact information, and policy number for your health insurer
  • any correspondence that you may have had with any insurers involved in your claim, and
  • proof of your lost earnings such as tax records or pay stubs.

You should bring these documents to your meeting if you have them. Your lawyer can certainly get all of this information in his/her investigation, but, if you have these documents, you keep your lawyer from having to reinvent the wheel and get documents and information that you already have.

Make a List of Questions to Ask

There will undoubtedly be things that you want to know from the lawyer. You should write them down so that you can make sure to ask them all. Things that you might want to know from a prospective medical malpractice lawyer can include:

  • how many medical malpractice cases the lawyer has had
  • does the lawyer specialize in medical malpractice
  • how long has the lawyer been handling medical malpractice cases
  • how many medical malpractice trials has the lawyer had
  • how many medical malpractice trials has the lawyer won
  • what are the lawyer’s largest medical malpractice verdicts
  • how long will it take before the lawyer will be prepared to make a settlement demand
  • what are the chances of settling the case
  • will the lawyer be prepared to file a medical malpractice lawsuit if he/she can’t get a reasonable settlement offer, and
  • what are the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

Keep in mind that there are some things that a lawyer won’t be able to tell you at that first meeting -- for example, what the weaknesses in your case are. The lawyer may not know that until they have looked at all of the documentation.

More importantly, a good medical malpractice lawyer will not tell you how much your case is worth at the first meeting. A good lawyer does not know how much a malpractice case is worth until he/she looks at all of the information and data in the case. If a lawyer tells you at the first meeting that you’ve got a great case and that it’s worth a million dollars, you don’t want to hire that lawyer.

Decide What You are Looking for in a Lawyer

You should have an idea of what kind of lawyer you are looking for. Do you think that you’re going to need someone who is going to tell you what is going on every step of the way? Or do you just want to give the lawyer the file and tell him/her to call you when the case is over?

All lawyers are different. Some great lawyers do not have good social skills. They might be brusque with their clients in private, but fantastic in front of a jury. Other lawyers might be great hand-holders, but only average lawyers. You have to decide what is more important to you.

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