Why Do I Need a Lawyer for a Medical Malpractice Case?
It’s unwise to enter the rough legal waters of a medical malpractice case without an attorney by your side. Healthcare providers and their insurance companies have deep pockets and are prepared to fight tooth and nail to disprove or minimize your claim. On top of this, medical malpractice is usually very difficult to prove: far more so than assigning liability in a simple auto accident case.
A medical malpractice attorney brings legal knowledge, medical expertise, experience, and confidence to your side. If you’re still unsure whether or not to hire legal representation for your medical malpractice case, the following ten points should help you decide.
1. Greatly Increase Your Chance of Winning
A study looking at twenty years of medical malpractice cases found that even when evidence of negligence is considered strong, only 50 percent of claimants win in a jury trial. And this win rate drops to just 10 or 20 percent when the evidence is considered weak.
When claims escalate to become full-blown medical malpractice lawsuits in court – as five to ten percent of cases do – winning over a jury is an uphill struggle. It takes an experienced and skillful attorney to pull off a victory. And with a good attorney by your side, you’re far more likely to avoid the courthouse altogether by winning a fair settlement beforehand.
2. Know the True Value of Your Claim
When entering your first medical malpractice case, it’s unlikely that you know the value of your claim. You’ll enter proceedings with an incorrect understanding of your legal rights and expectations of compensation that are either too high or too low. Worse yet, you might allow the insurance company to set those expectations for you.
An experienced attorney can clarify exactly what damages you can and cannot claim. Your damages might include medical bills, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, physical and occupational therapy, mental anguish, physical pain, loss of enjoyment in life, and more. They’ll also calculate a realistic monetary value for each of these damages.
3. Negotiate a Larger Settlement
Dealing directly with insurance companies can be an intimidating experience. Negotiating a successful claim and fair compensation takes a great deal of skill, confidence, and legal know-how, which most claimants lack.
An attorney can deal with the insurance company for you. One of the primary responsibilities of an attorney is to negotiate the highest possible compensation, which also increases their own fee. On average, personal injury claims with an attorney receive three and a half times more money in their settlement than claimants who try to negotiate by themselves.
4. Overcome the Complexity of Proving Your Claim
With any medical malpractice case, you must prove that the healthcare professional acted negligently while treating you, and also that their negligence caused your injury. Medical negligence means the physician failed to act with the same skill and care as a reasonable physician would have acted under the same conditions. This is difficult to prove for a couple of reasons.
Modern Medicine Is Complicated and Technical
Everyone understands the straightforward dynamics involved in a rear-end auto collision or slip-and-fall accident. But the complexity of modern medicine makes it a hundred times harder to understand exactly what actually happened, how a reasonable physician should have acted, and how your doctor stepped outside of those accepted standards.
A medical malpractice lawyer can unravel the complexity of your case, even in highly specialized medical fields. They can call upon relevant medical experts where needed, decipher technical medical records, understand all the policies and regulations, and gather sufficient evidence with meticulous attention to detail.
Proving Negligence Is No Simple Feat
Even when a doctor acts properly, without medical negligence, there’s a chance that the patient will be injured in some way. It’s a risk with every medical procedure. In almost every medical malpractice case, this is what the defendant’s legal team will be arguing for.
So an enormous amount of detailed investigation and analysis, including expert witness testimony, is required to prove that negligence occurred and caused your injury. Without a medical malpractice attorney working with you, this is very hard to do.
5. Avoid Costly Mistakes
Without a medical malpractice lawyer by your side from the outset, it’s easy to make mistakes that harm your claim. Common errors of judgment include being overly trusting of the insurance company, sharing too much information about the claim online, failing to properly file the case, not documenting and saving evidence properly, and failing to follow the doctor’s orders to the letter.
Perhaps the worst mistake of all is settling too early for much less than you deserve. Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer right at the start will ensure that you avoid these, and other, pitfalls.
6. Tap Your Attorney’s Resources
Hiring a medical malpractice attorney not only provides you with guidance throughout the litigation process, but you also gain access to all the attorney’s resources and connections. After years of working on similar cases, an attorney has access to all kinds of special investigators, medical experts and witnesses, financial experts, specialist healthcare professionals for independent medical examinations, and other valuable contacts.
The networks that come with medical malpractice lawyers and law firms often prove invaluable at various stages of the legal process. This asset is an often-overlooked reason why claimants need a medical malpractice lawyer. Without the right attorney by your side, it can be very hard to find suitable experts or even know which experts your case requires.
7. Expedite the Litigation Process
While a simple car accident claim can take as little as a month or two to resolve, medical malpractice claims often take two or three years or even longer. Insurance companies are happy to let cases drag out. But for you, the plaintiff, a prolonged case can be a huge disruption to your life.
Most medical malpractice lawyers understand this and keep the case moving forward as quickly as possible. Any lawyer you hire should be working on a contingency basis. This means they’re also motivated to achieve the best outcome as rapidly as possible, so you can both get paid.
8. Have the Paperwork Handled
If you plan on tackling your medical malpractice claim alone, get ready for reams and reams of paperwork. Trying to decipher the legal jargon in the typical correspondence in medical cases puts most people to sleep. And there’s so much of it.
But all letters and emails pertaining to the case must be responded to correctly and in a timely manner. An attorney well-versed in medical malpractice law can take this off your hands and handle all paperwork for you.
9. Conserve Your Time and Energy
Lodging a medical malpractice claim is time-consuming and energy-draining for even the healthiest of individuals. And if your claim escalates to a medical malpractice lawsuit, it puts even more demand on your time and attention. But while recovering from injuries and dealing with the disruption to work, you need to conserve your time and energy to rest and recover.
Experienced medical malpractice lawyers take almost all case-related activities off your hands and out of your schedule. They navigate the legal system and procedures for you, keeping you updated on the case’s progress as frequently or infrequently as you like. This gives you the spare time and energy to nurse your injuries and get your life back on track.
10. Gain Counsel and Moral Support
The shock and trauma of a medical malpractice injury can really hit you. The immediate need to take legal action and initiate the claim is a stressful and lonely burden for many claimants. Therefore, one final very important reason most claimants need a good medical malpractice lawyer is to have a staunch ally fighting by their side.
It feels good to have a qualified and experienced lawyer battling for you. Within the assurance of your attorney-client relationship, you can confide in your lawyer and get well-informed professional advice on all your case-related concerns and problems. This firm moral support can provide you with the confidence to see the case through and get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Wendt Law Firm L.C. today at 816-542-6734 for a free consultation to determine the strength of your claim. Our award-winning attorneys have won over 1,000 personal injury cases. And our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help you achieve the best settlement possible.