Finding a qualified lawyer is critical to the success of a medical malpractice case, especially compared with more straightforward personal injury cases (like those arising from a minor car accident). But medical malpractice is a relatively rare specialty. If you think you have a legitimate medical malpractice case, how do you find the right lawyer?
Perhaps the best way to find a good medical malpractice lawyer is to ask for a recommendation from a lawyer who you already know and trust. Most lawyers have long contacts lists, gleaned from years of litigation and lawyer-to-lawyer networking.
If you don't know any lawyers, ask a close friend or relative if they've recently worked with a lawyer and come away with a good impression. Maybe they can ask the lawyer for a recommendation of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Almost all state and local bar associations have lawyer referral services that connect prospective clients with qualified lawyers. Most bar associations require lawyers who want to be listed in a specialty such as medical malpractice to demonstrate a specified level of experience in that field.
In order to be connected with a lawyer, simply call or email the bar association and ask to be referred to a qualified lawyer. Start by doing an online search for "bar association" in your city or state.
Many web sites (including this one) have a method for connecting prospective clients with lawyers by specialty. You can utilize a "chat" feature or form submission—along with some general information about your case—to make initial contact with a prospective lawyer or two.
When you're considering a medical malpractice lawyer, the most important issues are the lawyer's experience in medical malpractice cases and whether you and the lawyer are a good fit for on another.
You certainly want to start off by asking the lawyer about their experience in medical malpractice cases.
Remember that medical malpractice cases are difficult to win, and most trials end up with a defense verdict. So you shouldn't expect that the lawyer will have won most of their medical malpractice trials.
Almost every medical malpractice case will require a medical expert witness to prove that the defendant health care provider's action or inaction rose to the level of medical negligence. If you have a medical malpractice case and cannot find a qualified medical expert witness to give an opinion that the defendant was negligent, your case could be dismissed.
Experienced medical malpractice lawyers know how to find a medical expert in any specialty. Some work with medical expert witness services, and others are so experienced that they have a network of doctors in almost every specialty who might serve as expert witnesses. You want an answer that shows that the lawyer knows what they're doing in this arena.
This can be almost as important as the lawyer's competency and experience. If you and the lawyer can't seem to get along, that's a red flag.
In order to figure out whether you and a lawyer are going to be a good fit, you need to assess yourself as well:
Knowing who you are and what you expect will help you decide what type of lawyer is the best fit for you.
Lawyers come in all types, just as people do. There are curt, brusque lawyers, and there are warm, friendly, touchy-feely lawyers. They might all be equally effective at getting money for their clients, but they all might have totally different kinds of relationships with their clients. It's up to you to figure out what kind of attorney-client relationship you want.
This is an issue that's important to most potential clients, and understandably so. But it's pretty unlikely that a prospective lawyer will be able to speak with any level of specificity when it comes the the dollar value of your medical malpractice case. There are far too many variables at play. At this early stage, the lawyer is probably most focused on:
Medical malpractice cases can be very expensive to litigate. Once you've found some candidates, you'll want to discuss the fee arrangement in detail. It's likely that a medical malpractice lawyer will represent you under a contingency fee agreement, meaning the lawyer's fee for legal services will come out of any settlement or court award you receive.