Why You Need a Lawyer to Represent You in Your Medical Malpractice Claim
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
Filing a medical malpractice claim is not like suing someone in small claims court over a fender bender. It would be about as difficult for a non-lawyer to win a medical malpractice case as it would be for a non-doctor to perform surgery on himself. Since winning a medical malpractice claim generally requires extensive preparation and resources, you should consider getting a lawyer involved as early as possible in the process. Following are some of the major reasons to hire a lawyer to represent you in your medical malpractice claim.
The Stakes Are High
Many medical malpractice claims involve serious injury and overwhelming medical expenses, not to mention physical suffering and other psychological losses. If you lose the case you could be saddled with a lifetime of debilitating medical expenses that you can’t afford, which renders it likely that you will receive less than ideal medical care.
Even if you win your case, you might find out years down the road that your settlement is woefully inadequate (if you underestimated your long-term medical expenses, for example). By that time it will be too late to seek recovery of your losses, either in court or at the settlement table. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer with expert help will know how to properly estimate your long-term damages so that you will receive enough to compensate you for everything you are going to need.
Contingency Fee Arrangements Can Cut Your Short-Term Costs
Winning a medical malpractice settlement can be expensive – for example, you may need to hire one or more expert medical witnesses. Although negotiating a settlement won’t get any cheaper if you hire a lawyer, some medical malpractice lawyers will take your case on a contingency basis. Under a contingency fee arrangement you pay nothing if you lose, but if you win your lawyer receives a percentage of the verdict or settlement. Nevertheless, good legal representation typically will result in a significant increase in the amount of your recovery and more than make up for your legal fees.
A medical malpractice lawyer is likely to agree to a contingency fee arrangement only if he is fairly sure he can win the case – otherwise he will end up paying all your expenses and working for free with nothing to show for it in the end.
You May Have to Go to Court
Filing a lawsuit is ususally necessary to prompt the defendant to make a serious settlement offer. Even if you file a lawsuit, you may not get a decent settlement offer until the trial date approaches. Unlike small claims court, in a medical malpractice case you will be expected to comply with complex rules of civil procedure and submission of evidence.
You will need to prove the precise standard of care that the doctor should have complied with in your particular case, and you will need to effectively refute the other side when they submit contrary medical evidence. If your injury is long-term, you might have to estimate your medical expenses decades into the future. Remember also that you will be up against professional malpractice defense attorneys who will fight hard to win.
There are many circumstances in life in which it makes sense to skimp in order to save money. Negotiating a medical malpractice claim for a substantial amount of money is not one of these circumstances. Please browse our directory to find a qualified medical malpractice attorney in your area.