How Does an Attorney Evaluate a Potential Medical Malpractice Case?
When a health professional or health facility makes a mistake that results in an injury or death, can anything be done to receive compensation for the mistake?
The answer is yes: You can find a reputable attorney who specializes in medical malpractice litigation to evaluate your case and, potentially, file a lawsuit.
We all should trust the health professionals and facilities that treat us and our loved ones. Our lives are literally in their hands. But mistakes, while rare, can and do happen.
Medical malpractice claims require several complex steps — from reviewing the medical records to determine the merit of the claim to finding the right experts who can verify that the doctor failed to act within the applicable standard of care.
The first and most important step is finding the best lawyer.
What should I look for in a med-mal attorney?
Difficult and hard-fought, the complexity of medical malpractice cases requires the right lawyer with the expertise necessary to review and, if necessary, take your case to trial. That expertise comes from experience in the courtroom.
The ideal medical malpractice attorney should let you know from the outset how many cases he/she has successfully tried in court, should have strong testimonial support from prior clients, and should have recognition in the legal community through awards and certifications.
“Our trial experience sets us apart from other law firms. Many firms talk about being tough. Here at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, our results speak for us. Nothing compares with real experience in the courtroom when working on medical malpractice cases for our clients. We can go the extra mile for clients because we have gone there before.” Bob Giroux, founding partner
Getting the ball rolling
When you first consult with an attorney, you will explain what you believe went wrong and why. The lawyer will ask you a lot of questions, such as information about prior health conditions, the course of treatment, and follow-up medical care.
Based on your answers and the available documents, the attorney will make a determination on the potential to achieve a successful outcome.
An experienced lawyer who has successfully tried many medical malpractice cases will be able to reach a conclusion by assessing these thresholds:
- The factual basis for the claim.
- The applicable standard of practice or care.
- The manner in which care was below the applicable standard of care and what action should have been taken.
- The injury caused by the breach in the standard of care — such as medical bills, physical injury, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment or lost income (damages).
Timing is everything
Why is it important to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible? Because the time to file a civil lawsuit against a doctor, hospital or medical staff member is limited to two years from the date when the alleged injury took place. This is what is known as the statute of limitations. In addition, prior to filing the lawsuit, a Notice of Intent to File a Claim must be served on all potential defendants 182 days before you are permitted to file the lawsuit. Failure to file the lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations will forever bar the case no matter how meritorious it would have been.
Gathering up the evidence
If your lawyer considers your case a viable one, your account of the incident and the injury is not enough to pursue the matter. All of the records and other documentary evidence must be obtained and reviewed in detail to be sure that the case is a solid one. It is not uncommon for our well-seasoned medical malpractice attorneys to spend hundreds of hours investigating the medical records in a case.
Talking to the experts
A medical expert must also review your case to determine whether the defendant doctor, hospital or medical staff member made an error so significant that it went beyond the medically accepted standard of care, and that the error was a proximate cause of the injury or death. These experts serve as similarly trained, prudent medical providers who can prove that they could have provided a higher level of care than the doctor(s) alleged to be at fault in your case.
Successful medical malpractice lawyers have strong relationships with a large number of skilled medical experts (regionally and nationally) who can understand the appropriate standard of care and testify before a jury as to how that standard was breached.
How lawyer fees work
You do not incur any expense for legal fees or disbursements unless your medical malpractice case results in a jury verdict or a settlement. This is important because medical malpractice claims are expensive to pursue. This means that the lawyer will front the funds needed for expenses including medical experts, deposition fees, medical record charges, exhibits, and court costs.
Since the lawyer’s fees are dependent on the outcome of your case, your attorney will do everything possible — within the law — to get the best result for you. Your lawyer is paid through a contingency fee agreement, which is standard under Michigan law for personal injury matters. When a medical malpractice case is resolved, your lawyer is entitled to one-third (or 33 1/3 percent) of what is collected.
How does Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys measure up?
Now that you know what goes on when an attorney evaluates and accepts a medical malpractice case, here is why Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys should represent you for your medical malpractice claim:
Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys’s med-mal attorneys have strong trial experience and real results: Several of our attorneys’ 2,000-plus cases and 120-plus court trials have been rooted in medical malpractice and have resulted in multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements.
Our clients sing praises: We have recovered for many survivors of botched surgeries and families of loved ones who fell victim to wrongful medical-related deaths. Hear in their own words how Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys got their lives back together following the unspeakable tragedy.
We are highly recognized and rated: The medical malpractice attorneys at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys are included in national legal organizations’ annual top-attorney guides and databases, such as Super Lawyers and Martindale Hubbell. We are strongly involved in the Oakland County and Wayne County bar associations, the Michigan Association For Justice, and the Michigan State Bar Foundation.
We work quickly to get your med-mal case running: Once we agree to take your case, we start working immediately to make sure all deadlines are met and no chance to file suit slips by.
The relationships we have with medical experts are tightly knit: A law firm does not win difficult medical malpractice cases by its attorneys’ skills alone, which is why Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys’ lawyers have built solid relationships with many of the most regarded state and national medical experts.
You never pay a fee until we win — and we will fight hard to win: We at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys only get paid for our services when your medical malpractice case is resolved through a verdict or settlement. Your success is our success, so we will do the best job to get you what your medical malpractice case is worth.
If you or your loved one has been seriously injured because of a medical professional’s mistake, let us put our decades of expertise to work for you. Contact us today. The consultation is free!