If you or any of your friends or family members have suffered injuries or complications due to the negligence of a medical practitioner tasked with treating you, it’s your right to proceed with this matter in a legal way and get compensated for the damages.
In order to sue a medical practitioner for professional misconduct, you will need to enlist the help of medical malpractice lawyers. Not only does a medical malpractice lawyer represent an individual who has been impacted by medical malpractice, but such attorneys also help out the friends or family members of the patient fighting the case in case the patient is in no condition to participate in the courtroom procedures.
In this article, you will get to learn about the vital role of medical malpractice lawyers in society.
Medical Malpractice: Statistics to Note
Before we give you a thorough explanation of the role of medical malpractice lawyers in society, it’s crucial for you to understand the impact of negligence showed by a qualified medical professional. Such irresponsibility has not only caused severe injuries but also deaths (in cases where they could be avoided).
And the best way to highlight the impact of medical malpractice is to shed light on some alarming facts and figures about the same.
According to a 2016 article published by the British Medical Journal, medical blunders were behind 250,000 deaths per year in the US alone. Moreover, the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States of America.
It should also be noted that patients or their representatives who roped in a medical malpractice lawyer to get help with their cases collectively received over $3 billion as a settlement in 2012.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Introduction
For patients or the friends/family members of a patient/the deceased planning on taking legal action against the healthcare worker whose negligence or professional misconduct resulted in the medical procedure going wrong, a medical malpractice attorney’s involvement is a must.
These lawyers help in representing their clients via judicial means. The case they take up can be against anyone from the healthcare department whose negligence was the reason behind severe casualties encountered by the plaintiff. In short, the case can be against a doctor, a nurse, a dentist, a therapist, or other medical/healthcare personnel.
Also, it is important to note that a medical practice case can stem from a number of instances such as birth traumas, botched surgeries, misdiagnosis, delaying the treatment despite being aware of its severity, not guiding a patient about the potential side effects of a procedure, etc.
The causes behind this misconduct are mainly the lack of skills possessed by the concerned medical or healthcare worker or a lack of understanding regarding a complicated procedure.
While accidents do happen during a medical procedure, malpractice refers to those cases that happen due to the misconduct of a professional and something that could be avoided if handled with care by a skilled professional.
The Role of Medical Malpractice Lawyers
It can be said that the nature of a medical malpractice lawyer’s work is similar to that of a civil litigator. For those of you unaware, a civil litigator’s main responsibility is to take up cases that are not based on criminal charges but can still be taken to the court.
This is exactly what medical malpractice lawyers do. These attorneys thoroughly study the details of the injuries and complications suffered by the party filing the case. The purpose of this study is to ensure the presence of claims and evidence that could lead to a court decision in the favor of the plaintiff.
These lawyers also represent their clients against medical personnel whose actions caused injuries to them or someone they are related to. A medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed against either a medical worker (or more) or against an entire corporation.
In short, a medical malpractice lawyer fulfills a number of responsibilities such as reviewing the case, interviewing the clients to probe for information, do a detailed investigation on the case at hand, crafting strategies for the legal proceedings, etc.
However, their role doesn’t end with the aforementioned tasks. In fact, a medical malpractice lawyer can also assume responsibility for handling several other tasks like:
- Prepare detailed case theories, expert reports, and testimony to strengthen the case, by working closely with leading medical professionals
- Take oral testimonies (out of court) of highly qualified medical personnel and third parties whose insight can help in the progression of the case in the plaintiff’s favor
- Compile and evaluate medical records
- Conduct independent medical examinations (IMEs) to acquire an unbiased evaluation of the affected plaintiff’s condition
- Take out the time to conduct comprehensive medical research that covers everything about the plaintiff’s situation
- Rope in legal nurse consultants and utilize their skills to assess case merits, go through medical records, and figure out notes written by the doctor.
Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
If you have made up your mind to file a lawsuit against the medical personnel responsible for leading the procedure out of which you came injured, why is it important to enlist the services of a medical malpractice lawyer? If you have a valid claim and the material to support your case, shouldn’t any attorney be able to take up your case?
Well, the answer to the aforementioned question is no, these types of cases are best handled by qualified medical malpractice lawyers. But why is that? The answer is simple. A medical malpractice lawyer, who is experienced too, can help in proving the negligence of the healthcare personnel responsible for treating you.
If you manage to get a hold of the right attorney, they can win your case by proving the following points:
- Before treating the plaintiff, the medical professional had full knowledge of the fact that they had a “duty of care” to the plaintiff. This could be proven by revealing that when the injuries or complications surfaced, the plaintiff was actually a patient of the medical expert in question. And when a doctor is tasked with providing a patient with medical treatment, they have to ensure that it is being done within the acceptable medical standards.
- Occurrence of a “breach of duty”. As mentioned in the previous point, while treating a patient, medical professionals have a “duty of care” to them and this duty is violated if a doctor, technician, or even a therapist shows negligence during the treatment. Thus, it proves that a “breach of duty” did in fact occur.
- It is essential that a medical malpractice lawyer is able to highlight a link between the injuries/complications suffered by the patient (or whom they are fighting for) and the negligence of the acceptable standards of care shown by the relevant healthcare personnel.
- Lastly, the attorney tasked with successfully representing a patient must highlight that the injuries incurred by the plaintiff and the resulting damages, were caused by the breach of duty committed by the healthcare provider against whom the lawsuit has been filed.
Medical Malpractice Caps Across Different States
If you have filed or are planning to file a medical malpractice case against your healthcare provider, then this information might be of value to you. About thirty states in the US have set a cap on the amount of money you can recover by winning the case in question. These states include California, Texas, North and South Carolina, Virginia, etc.
How Much does a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Make Annually?
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median pay of an attorney was $122,960 in 2019. When it comes to a medical malpractice lawyer, their exact annual income depends on their specialty as well as the number of cases that they can take up.
Just like many personal injury lawyers, a significant number of medical malpractice lawyers offer their clients a contingency fee plan that helps in lowering the amount that the plaintiff has to pay upfront. The said plan revolves around the idea of the attorney taking a percentage of the recovered amount, shall the plaintiff win the case.
However, as discussed above, various states have set a cap on the total amount that can be recovered. This can hinder the payout of the attorney.
Moreover, another concerning fact for the medical malpractice lawyers, as far as their payout is concerned, is that between 2006 and 2015, over two-thirds of medical malpractice lawsuits were either dropped, withdrawn, or dismissed (as per a study conducted by the American Medical Association).
Only about 7% of the cases were decided via trial and out of those, nearly 9 in 10 cases were won by the defending party i.e. the healthcare personnel or corporation against whom the case was filed.
How does one Become a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
First and foremost, anyone striving to become a medical malpractice attorney must secure a bachelor’s degree. After that, they should take admission in a law school that will basically groom them for their professional life in about three years.
It should be noted that in order to get admission in a well-reputed law school, one has to take and ace the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Once they enter the school, the students should choose an area of specialization. For those interested in becoming medical malpractice lawyers, a thorough understanding of civil litigation can do wonders.
During the academic life, law students can apply for internships to get a chance to work with leading medical malpractice lawyers.
Upon the completion of their law program, the graduates will be required to take the bar exam in whichever state they want to practice.
To perfect their craft before fully stepping into the world of law, a medical malpractice lawyer can receive board certification from a credible organization such as the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA). To get the required certificate, one must showcase immense experience, educational expertise, ethics, and brilliance in the law of liability.
Your best chance at recovering the money you spent on a medical procedure that caused you injuries or complications, is by hiring a medical malpractice attorney. Not only does such a lawyer carefully study your case, but they also do their best to represent you in the court successfully by presenting apt claims that signify the occurrence of a breach of duty on the medical professional’s part.
We hope that by reading this article, you got to learn all the important stuff about the roles and responsibilities of medical malpractice lawyers.