If you’ve been hurt in a medical proceeding, then a malpractice suit may be the best — or sometimes the only — way to get the compensation you need to continue living as normally as possible. But it can be a confusing process if you don’t have legal training, and you’ll want a good medical malpractice lawyer to guide you along the way. Here are five questions that you can ask prospective lawyers up front to make sure your case goes as smoothly as possible:
- Do I Have a Strong Case?
Before you ever decide to pursue legal action, take advantage of the consultations most medical malpractice lawyers offer and make sure they think you have a strong case. Don’t confuse this issue with a guarantee of whether or not you’ll end up winning; even lawyers at top law firms lose cases, and there’s no way to predict a case’s outcome with 100% accuracy. But you should go in with a realistic expectation.
- How Is My Case Similar to Past Ones You’ve Handled?
Many personal injury attorneys handle medical malpractice cases, but that doesn’t mean just any personal injury lawyer will do. Ask for some specific points that make your attorney confident he or she is qualified to handle your case in particular.
- How Will I Pay You?
The most common fee arrangement for medical malpractice cases is a contingency fee, meaning that the attorney only gets paid if you end up with a settlement. If you can afford an upfront cost, you might choose to be billed hourly, instead. It’s important to note when discussing payment that a fee is generally separate from “costs,” which are expenses incurred during the course of the case. Even if you don’t get a settlement, you’ll almost certainly be expected to cover those costs.
- Will It Be Worth Going to Trial?
The goal in most cases is actually to reach a settlement outside of court. This saves both time and money for all parties involved. But sometimes that’s not always possible, and a trial may become necessary. It can be helpful to discuss in advance how much your case is worth (a complex set of calculations you’ll need your attorney’s help for) so you know if it’s advantageous to go to trial or not.
- Who Will Be My Contact Person?
Often, the medical malpractice lawyer who performs your consultation won’t actually be handling your case all the time, or will just be overseeing it. It’s worth asking up front whom you can contact with questions or concerns throughout your case so that there’s no confusion.
What other questions might you want to ask a malpractice attorney up during an initial consultation? Join the discussion in the comments.