How To Prepare for a Medical Malpractice LawsuitFebruary 21, 2023
Only 2.9 percent of the people who experience medical malpractice injuries each year will file claims. Why? It is possible that many do not realize that their medical care was negligent, while others might think that malpractice cases are too complicated. Both of those answers are true to some extent, but understanding how these lawsuits work is the first step towards getting the compensation that you may be entitled to.
Should I Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Medical malpractice may have occurred during childbirth, during an appendectomy, when a medical device was implanted incorrectly, when the wrong prescription was given, and in many other situations.
There needs to be a direct connection between a provider’s negligence and your condition. You might not have access to that kind of evidence, but that is where an experienced medical malpractice lawyer comes in. It is also important to think about the kind of outcome you want. Getting compensation for your economic expenses and pain and suffering and seeing the medical practitioner lose their license so they cannot injure anyone else are common goals.
Finding the Right Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Look in your area for local medical malpractice lawyers because you’ll need to arrange in-person meetings to work on the case. Read over the websites to see how informative they are and note if state laws are mentioned. Take the time to set up interviews and consultations with several different firms, because this is not something that should be rushed. Create a list of questions, ask them the same questions, and compare the answers.
You should ask about the firm’s experience in the area of medical malpractice and successful case outcomes. It is also important to find out about the fee structure; many malpractice firms are paid on a contingency basis. You should feel comfortable asking the questions, and the answers should be forthcoming and honest; there should be no pressure to make a fast decision. Inquire about the strength of your case and the evidence-gathering process; medical malpractice lawyers work with expert witnesses and eyewitnesses. Remember to ask if any fees must be paid upfront and the likelihood of the case getting settled or ending up in court.
Meeting With Your Malpractice Lawyer
As with other kinds of introductory meetings, it is best to be fully prepared for your first appointment with a medical malpractice lawyer. Gather all of the documentation about your illness or injury like initial diagnoses, treatment plans, surgical records, copies of prescriptions, and medical statements. You will also want to have your insurance benefits statements and payments ready. This information should also be shared with your lawyer:
- Communications with medical staff: letters, emails, texts, voicemails
- Copies of medical images and reports
- Patient ID numbers and social security number
- Proof of lost wages (paystubs)
- Vaccination history
- W-2 form
If you have proof of any other economic losses, organize them as well. These might include evidence that you had to go on disability, got fired, had to hire in-home help, and so forth. Include even small things like toll bridge receipts: the more evidence, the better. Your lawyer will let you know what is the most helpful for your case. It is also important to make a list of all the healthcare professionals who treated you, with their contact information.
Be honest with your lawyer about the extent of your illness or injuries. This way, your case can be evaluated objectively, and your expectations will be realistic. Write down your symptoms before the meeting, when they started, and what actions were taken. Note how closely you followed the practitioner’s instructions, if and when the symptoms worsened, and how long they have lasted.
Investigation and Depositions
After the initial meeting, your lawyer will begin the investigation phase to determine if you have a valid medical malpractice claim. This involves getting an expert medical opinion from a qualified third party, analyzing documents, and contacting eyewitnesses like other physicians, nurses, and staff members. The alleged responsible party might not be who you think it is, though. Instead of the physician who performed the main procedure, the fault could like with an anesthesiologist, a defective medical device, or the medical facility where it took place. Every avenue must be explored. If the alleged malpractice is confirmed, you will have the option of having the lawyer file a lawsuit on your behalf.
The discovery process starts soon after, and each party will be interviewed by the other side’s legal representatives. These are referred to as “depositions.” Meeting a defendant’s lawyer can be intimidating, but preparation can help. Your lawyer will go over the case’s details carefully so you will have ready answers when questioned by the opposing counsel. An experienced malpractice attorney will emphasize the importance of sticking to the facts and avoiding phrases like “I think so” and “maybe.” You may be asked questions that you do not know the answer to and when that happens, it is better to say, “I do not know” or “I do not remember.”
Do not offer information that is not requested, and never exaggerate because unnecessary opinions could damage your case. You might think that elaborating beyond what is necessary about your injuries might garner sympathy, but the other side’s goal is to discredit your claims. Stretching the truth can easily discredit your case.
The last piece of advice here is to dress appropriately. This might not seem important, but it shows everyone that you are serious and have a credible claim. You do not need wear a suit and tie or a dress, especially if you normally dress more casually. Your clothing should be neat, clean, and comfortable enough so you will not be distracted.
Will My Medical Malpractice Case Go to Trial?
After the depositions are complete and the documents reviewed, both parties will start negotiating a settlement. This is the first choice because the outcomes are not decided by judges and juries and are more predictable. They are often less drawn-out and less costly than court trials, too. If both parties cannot agree on a satisfactory settlement, the case may move on to a trial.
After a court date is set, you and your lawyer will start making the preparations. Medical experts and eyewitnesses may testify and be cross-examined by attorneys on both sides. Once the arguments are complete, the jury will have the opportunity to make their decision. This should be based on whether or not the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care, and if their actions harmed the patient.
Should the jury vote that medical negligence occurred, they will also be tasked with deciding on the amount of compensation (damages) that the defendant will pay to the plaintiff.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Laws
Your Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer will go over Maryland’s malpractice laws with you in detail. One of the most important ones is the statute of limitations: these claims must be filed within three years after a plaintiff discovered the injury or five years after the injury, whichever came first.
Another important Maryland law stipulates that a qualified medical expert opinion certificate has to be filed within 90 days after filing the claim. If the alleged damages exceed $30,000, there are other requirements as well. The State also has a cap for medical malpractice damages. It increases by $15,000 each year and for 2022, it was $860,000.
Contact a Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for Help
Medical negligence can lead to devastating injuries and illnesses, and if your provider is at fault for your condition, we may be able to help. For a free consultation, contact an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Call 800-547-4LAW (4529) or complete our online form and to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.