You suspect you experienced medical malpractice. Whether you suffered nerve damage after surgery, a birth injury or a botched C section, were discharged too early from the hospital, were misdiagnosed, suffered a delayed diagnosis, or any other medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation and you need a good medical malpractice lawyer to help you get what you deserve.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer discusses your case with you free of charge, but how do you know how to prepare for your meeting? Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer Heidi G. Villari, Esq. gives you the top ten questions to ask at your consultation so you get the most out of your discussion and feel confident you and your attorney are on the same page.
If you believe you suffered medical malpractice, call us today. We look forward to helping you get justice.
1. What is Your Experience with Medical Malpractice Cases?
Medical malpractice law is a niche area of personal injury law that requires experience with medical conditions, meticulous care regarding evidence, access to top medical experts, skill in negotiating with insurance companies, and the grit to litigate when insurance companies won’t pay.
Medical malpractice attorneys often start their career working for insurance companies, where they get experience in all of this from the defendant’s side. These attorneys can then represent plaintiffs such as you with all of the defense strategies in mind.
Not every attorney has the ability to represent medical malpractice clients, and not every medical malpractice attorney is right for you. You will know in your initial consultation whether you are comfortable working with that attorney and confident they will handle your case with skill and care.
2. Do I Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Case?
A good medical malpractice attorney will not take your case unless you have a right to compensation, because they often take cases on contingency – meaning, they do not get paid a legal fee unless you get a settlement or a money judgment.
During your consultation, your medical malpractice attorney asks you specific questions regarding the medical professionals involved and your injury or condition. Be prepared to describe what happened to you and name those involved so your attorney can provide an accurate initial evaluation of your case.
A medical malpractice case requires investigation to determine whether a medical professional breached their duty of care to you, causing your damages. That said, an experienced medical malpractice attorney accurately assesses a case during the consultation and is able to tell you whether you have a valid case.
3. Is there a Statute of Limitations or Time Limit on My Case?
This is important. In Pennsylvania, you have only two years from the incident (the date of negligence) or from when you learned (or should have known) of the injury or condition caused by the incident to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit within those two years, you are “time-barred” from doing so and you may not receive compensation for your injury even if it was caused by medical malpractice.
For this reason, and because investigations and gathering evidence take time, contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you suspect you fell victim to medical malpractice.
4. Is My Case Similar to Another You’ve Handled?
This drills down on the first question. You want a medical malpractice attorney by your side who knows what you are going through, what care you will need in the future, what evidence to procure, and what your case is worth.
5. What Elements Work in My Case Work For & Against Me?
Discussing the particulars of your case with your medical malpractice attorney gives you the confidence they are listening to you, have taken in what you have told them, and are actively evaluating your case for its strengths and weaknesses. Of course, as your attorney investigates, collects evidence, and talks with experts, the strengths and weaknesses may change, but an experienced attorney should be able to give you an initial assessment of the strength of your case.
6. Could My Case Settle or Will We Need to Go to Trial?
This is where a medical malpractice attorney’s experience kicks in. An experienced medical malpractice attorney knows how cases similar to yours progressed and whether insurance companies are likely to make an acceptable settlement offer. They also know the case history of similar medical malpractice lawsuits in your jurisdiction and can tell you whether your type of case typically goes to trial.
7. What Kind of Compensation Can I Expect?
An experienced medical malpractice attorney is able to “ballpark” a figure based upon your initial consultation. However, many factors figure into the final number, and these factors are determined over the course of gathering evidence, investigating your claim, and talking with experts.
You may be entitled to economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages, but your attorney consults experts to determine whether and how your future earning capacity is diminished by your injury or condition, whether you require continuing medical care, and what that care costs.
Experts also help your attorney calculate the value of any non-economic damages you suffer or will continue to suffer in the future, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
8. What Expert Medical Witnesses Would Help My Case?
This question prompts your medical malpractice attorney to specify the types of medical experts who they call upon in your type of case. Their answer bolsters the answers to questions about their experience and either give you confidence or make you doubt their ability to handle your case if they do not have a ready or sufficient answer.
9. How Long Do You Expect My Case to Take?
This question drills down on the question regarding whether your case will settle or go to trial. Your medical malpractice attorney should be able to give you a rough timeline of events in either situation, and should give you definite first steps, such as a date to gather and submit your documents, a date to meet with their medical expert, and a date to give your deposition.
10. What Costs Can I Expect?
Most medical malpractice attorneys take cases on contingency, which means they do not get paid their fee unless and until you receive compensation for your injury. That said, your medical malpractice attorney should offer you a retainer agreement specifying how and how much they get paid in legal fees and how court costs, the costs of experts, and other miscellaneous costs like postage and copying fees, are allocated.
Be sure to review this agreement thoroughly and ask questions if you do not understand it.
The Importance of Coming Prepared to Your Medical Malpractice Consultation
You must make a wise decision regarding who to hire as your medical malpractice attorney, because the wrong decision could have a devastating effect on you and your family if you don’t get the compensation you need and deserve.
Coming prepared with what you know about your case and these ten questions help you determine whether the attorney you meet with is the attorney for you.
Talk With an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you fell victim to medical malpractice, you have much more than a lawsuit on your mind. You are likely suffering from your injury or condition and undergoing continuing medical care in order to recover.
Let an experienced medical malpractice lawyer help you so you can focus on healing. We have recovered more than $125 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Call The Villari Firm today and put our proven experience to work for you.