4 Tips to Help You Have a Productive First Appointment with Your Medical Malpractice Attorney
Before you head into an appointment with a lawyer to discuss a malpractice action against a medical professional, it’s important to prepare in a few different ways. This article offers tips.
Medical practice lawsuits are not uncommon. According to one survey by the American Medical Association, nine out of 10 general surgeons have been on the receiving end of at least one malpractice lawsuit by the age of 55. If you believe you have been a victim of a medical error, how should you deal with the situation? The answer is, you get in touch with a reputed local medical malpractice lawyer.
The state of Maryland has a statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits that allows victims five years after the commission of an injury to file a lawsuit, or three years after the discovery of such an injury, whichever occurs first. If you are within the time allowed, you need to prepare to make an appointment with an attorney as early as possible. What follows are four tips to help you go in ready.
Be honest with yourself about why you want to sue
Prior to getting started with an action against a medical professional, it’s important to be clear about why you wish to go down this challenging path. It is only a good idea to file a lawsuit if the medical malpractice alleged has resulted in demonstrable injury. Sometimes, however, people end up considering legal action simply out of a desire to get even with a medical professional, or to settle scores; such actions are likely to fail.
Is there an injury you can point to?
To be successful with a lawsuit, you need more than just evidence that a medical professional did something wrong while they treated you. The act of negligence needs to also have caused you cognizable injury. In general, to succeed with your legal action, you need to be able to demonstrate that the medical professional in question violated an accepted standard of care, and that their choices directly and proximately resulted in your injury.
As an example, consider a patient who goes to a doctor for a complaint of abdominal pain. The doctor fails to order a scan to investigate the cause of the pain, but a second doctor does do it the following day, and discovers gallbladder stones. The first doctor’s oversight wouldn’t be cause for legal action, because the second doctor’s finding came very soon after, and there was no meaningful delay in appropriate treatment.
Think about everything you believe you deserve damages for
Prior to making an appointment with a lawyer, it would make sense to take the time needed to determine the exact nature of your pain and suffering, and the extent of your financial costs and losses. All your medical bills, even if they were covered by your insurance, your need for nursing assistance once you’re back home, and your loss of earning capacity and retirement benefits, could all be covered by the damages the court awards. You also need to describe in detail the pain and suffering that you went through as a result of the negligent conduct of the medical professional in question. The more detailed the information you’re able to give your lawyer, the better the position they are in to determine how to proceed with your case.
Ask yourself what, in your heart, you believe went wrong
Medical malpractice lawsuits can get very complex as they attempt to pin down the exact cause of a medical injury and determine responsibility. Deep medical issues, multiple specialties, and long weeks of medical investigation, can all be a part of the work required. In the face of such technical complexity, many plaintiffs tend to feel that their own take on what actually happened couldn’t possibly matter, and they tend to hold back. Often, however, since they are the ones who actually went through the experience in question, their gut feeling does count. Even after all their painstaking research, medical malpractice lawyers often end up finding that their clients’ initial intuitions weren’t far off. Before you go in to see your lawyer, it can help to sit down and ask yourself what you really think happened, and to write down a detailed description for your lawyer to go over. If a loved one was with you at the time you were treated, their gut feeling could matter, as well. It could help to bring them with you to your appointment.
When you head in prepared, you’re likely to have a meeting in which you achieve all your objectives, and come away with the answers and results you seek.