If you’re the victim of medical malpractice, there is one thing you should know up front: Never sign anything presented by the doctor, the hospital or their attorneys, even if they’re offering what appears to be a fair settlement. They are operating in their own interests to make you and your case go away. Although their offer may look like a good settlement, there are issues to consider that a malpractice attorney will advise you about while guarding your interests. Any settlement agreement that you sign could preclude you from additional compensation down the road.
Your chances of a favorable outcome are improved by hiring a good malpractice attorney. Medical malpractice is a specialized field and the cases are complicated and risky, which means they’re also expensive. Invest the time in finding a good lawyer in your area who specializes in medical malpractice.
Researching malpractice attorneys
If you think you need to hire a malpractice attorney, start with some basic research.
- Biographical information for the lawyers and their law firms. The Internet is a great place to start. Look at their websites to determine if they specialize in medical malpractice and if they defend the doctor or hospital or if they are plaintiff’s attorneys.
- Use search engines to scour the Internet. A Google search will turn up articles the lawyer has written and a wealth of information about their cases.
- If you already have a relationship with an attorney who practices other areas, ask for a reference. Lawyers know other lawyers.
- Contact your state bar association or visit their Web site to find out if the lawyer is in good standing
- Skim through your telephone directory to see if the firm advertises. But remember not to base your decision upon advertising.
- Ask for references. If you can, talk to people who can tell you about lawyer’s performance. Be aware that privacy concerns may prevent the lawyer from sharing names of clients.
- Check your local newspaper’s archives for any articles about court cases and settlements. You’ll probably be able to find the names of clients there.
If you’re presented with an initial settlement offer, before you sign anything, you need to know what you’re signing. They are offering you a settlement for a reason. Make sure you have an experienced malpractice attorney in your corner.