Properly preparing for your first interview with a medical malpractice attorney ensures that the legal team has the information they need to provide you with an accurate assessment of your case. The lawyer will consider how your injury occurred, your damages from the injury, and the parties who may be liable for your losses. If you omit information or the details you provide are not accurate, last-minute surprises can wreak havoc on your claim.
Preparing for Your First Interview with a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you suspect your illness, injury, or disease is the result of medical negligence or malpractice, you should seek legal help from an experienced medical malpractice attorney who handles these types of cases. Many attorneys offer free consultations to discuss details of the case and provide information related to filing a medical malpractice claim against the responsible party.
To prepare for your first interview with a medical malpractice attorney, there are some important factors to consider before you head to your interview. By planning ahead and being prepared for your interview, building a case will be faster and more successful.
Think About Your Reason for Filing
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical facility or medical professional may be a complicated legal process. The reason you decide to file a lawsuit will dictate the nature of the litigation process and its final outcome. Medical malpractice cases should only involve medical negligence that results in injury. Before you proceed, make sure you have a good faith basis for an interview with a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. Do not enter into any litigation for the purpose of annoyance or revenge. Such cases are doomed to fail.
Consider How Your Injury Occurred
When you file a medical malpractice claim, it’s not enough to show that a medical professional was negligent in his or her actions. You must prove that the negligent act resulted in an injury. In medical malpractice cases, you must prove four important factors:
- The medical professional owed a duty of care to the patient. This is usually established by proving the doctor-patient relationship.
- The medical institution or medical professional breached the standard duty of medical care. The level of care provided is usually compared to the reasonable standard of care provided by another medical professional.
- The breach of medical care caused injury to the patient. The breach of care must be directly linked to the patient’s injury.
- The injury to the patient resulted in damages. Proof must be shown that the patient suffered damages as a direct result of his or her injuries.
If you can answer yes to all four factors, you likely have a medical malpractice case.
Examine Your Damages
Once you determine that your injury was caused by a medical professional, be prepared to discuss the full extent of your injury during your first interview with a medical malpractice attorney. This will help your attorney assess monetary damages in the case.
In a medical malpractice case, awarded damages can be both economic and non-economic:
Economic Damages – Economic damages are defined as measurable and verifiable real damages that result in monetary losses. Economic damages include medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, therapy expenses, and present and future lost income.
Non-economic damages – Non-economic damages are defined as immeasurable and subjective non-monetary losses. These damages can not be calculated by adding up expenses. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability or disfigurement, and loss of companionship.
For your attorney to get a good understanding of the case, be forthcoming about your medical experience, your treatment, your doctor, your injury or injuries, and the pain and suffering caused by your injuries.
Consider the impact of your injuries on your lifestyle and your financial situation. Going to court as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit may be time-consuming and potentially costly if things don’t go your way. Talk to your attorney about the risk of losing and the rewards of winning.
Come Prepared With Your Medical Records
Medical records are arguably the most important type of evidence in a medical malpractice case, so it’s essential to bring them to your first interview with a medical malpractice attorney. Your medical records contain information that establishes proof of the following conditions:
- An existing relationship between patient and doctor at the time the injury occurred
- Dates and times of medical appointments and follow-up exams
- Description, details, and prognosis of injuries
- Medical treatments including exams, surgical procedures, lab tests, and image tests such as x-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs.
- Dates and doses of prescription medications
- Referrals to any medical specialists
Medical records that involve visible injuries usually include dated photos of injuries and progressive changes to those injuries, such as changes in bruises, cuts, and wounds. Photos can be very valuable and convincing evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Detailed medical records help you determine if you have a medical malpractice case.
In addition to official medical records, any documentation that shows communication between you and your doctors is valuable. This may include emails, voicemails, texts, and printed or written notices. Anything that shows a record of your interactions with your doctors or other medical professionals in question could be used to support your medical malpractice claim.
Provide the Attorney With the Details of Your Injury
When discussing your injury with a medical malpractice attorney, talk about specific details such as when you first noticed the injury, how the injury progressed, pain and swelling associated with the injury, and physical or mental impairments caused by the injury. By providing detailed information about your injury, your attorney will have more evidence to prove your case.
If a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed and your case goes to court, detailed information about your injuries can be helpful to validate medical negligence. Keep in mind that negligence can be attributed to so many medical errors, and it is difficult to prove. For instance, if your doctor fails to diagnose your medical condition during your exam or delays your diagnosis due to failure to order diagnostic testing, your medical condition may worsen, This is a prime example of medical negligence by your doctor.
In Illinois, there are a number of cases where ER doctors are failing to diagnose traumatic brain injuries, despite having sophisticated medical equipment and testing procedures to diagnose the condition. Medical research indicates a routine failure to diagnose or properly treat traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers. It’s estimated that almost 56% of concussions (mild TBIs) are not noted in ER records. In Illinois, the failure to diagnose a condition or the misdiagnosis of a condition are the reasons for about 30% of medical malpractice lawsuits.
Consider What Documents Might Help the Attorney Understand Your Injuries
Before you schedule your first interview with a medical malpractice attorney, think about documents that may help your attorney understand your injuries better. Depending on the type of injuries you have, you can look for helpful documents.
Medical injuries are usually documented by a trail of paperwork that includes correspondence and notices, medical bills, medical reports, photographs, and insurance claims. As the injury victim, you likely have some or all of these resources to share with a medical malpractice attorney. Try to round up as much as you can before your interview and file it in dated order with the most recent at the front and the oldest at the back.
Correspondence and Notices
When you have a medical injury, your correspondence will likely include letters, notices, or emails between you and your health insurance provider. These documents will show policy numbers, claim numbers, and insurance information. It may also include letters between your insurance company and your medical provider referencing injuries and medical expenses.
Make a file with all medical bills from medical providers in dated order. This may include bills from hospitals, physicians, specialists, therapists, medical labs, and other medical care providers. If you were taken to the hospital by ambulance, be sure to include that bill as well. Your health insurance provider usually has the right to put a medical lien against your injury settlement to recover what they paid out on your behalf, so make sure you discuss this in the interview with your attorney.
It’s helpful to gather medical bills for the following:
- Hospital and Doctor Bills – The hospital should issue an itemized bill for use of emergency services and the emergency room, in-patient room and supply expenses, surgical procedures, and hospital lab tests. It’s important to also gather separate medical bills sent by treating physicians and specialists who have outside offices.
- Rehabilitation Services – Depending on the type of injury you sustain and the severity of the injury, you may require rehabilitation services. Be sure to include bills showing rehab expenses, as well as any expenses for medical devices such as crutches, boots, braces, canes, or wheelchairs.
- Mental Health Services – Serious injuries often result in pain and suffering, impairments, and disabilities that require mental health services to deal with trauma. If you’re seeing a therapist, make sure you include bills showing related expenses.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses – Your injuries may include out-of-pocket expenses such as bandages, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications not covered by insurance. Make a file for all out-of-pocket expenses, as well as transportation costs and parking fees required for medical appointments.
You may not be able to gather all pertinent information prior to your first interview with a medical malpractice attorney. However, your attorney will gather information for you if you proceed with litigation. Don’t create a lot of stress if you can’t get everything together before your interview. With limited information and discussions about your case, your attorney will have a good idea of whether you have a strong case and should file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
When you’re a victim of medical negligence and suffer injuries, your first interview with a medical malpractice attorney should be with an attorney who is fighting for victims of negligence. Look for an attorney who has experience with medical malpractice cases and a track record of successful case outcomes.
Many medical malpractice cases are taken on a contingency basis, which means the attorney gets paid when he or she wins the case. When you go for your interview, it’s important to discuss your attorney’s fees, payment structures, and projected timelines of the case. The more information you discuss during your interview, the more prepared and confident you will be about proceeding with legal actions.
Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
Medical experts estimate that 12 million patients are injured every year by some type of medical malpractice. 1 in every 20 patients seeking medical attention for illness, injury, or disease each year suffers harm from medical misdiagnoses, improper medical treatments, hospital errors, surgical errors, prescription errors, and defective medical equipment. Unfortunately, many cases of medical malpractice go unnoticed by unsuspecting patients. Many attribute their ongoing health problems, medication side effects, and pain and suffering to a consequence of their medical illness, injury, or disease, rather than a consequence of medical negligence.
Medical negligence is defined as the negligent, improper, or unskilled treatment of a patient by a healthcare professional. This includes medical care received from a hospital, physician, surgeon, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, or other health care employees. Medical professionals have a duty to protect the patients they treat from harm. Medical negligence is the failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing illness, injury, disease, or death to a patient.
According to law, patients who suffer harm caused by medical malpractice have a legal right to file a medical malpractice claim against the responsible party or parties. Injured patients are entitled to recover damages through a civil lawsuit filed by a medical malpractice attorney. Such damages may include medical expenses, lost income, rehabilitation and therapy expenses, pain and suffering, temporary or permanent disability, and in cases that involve egregious conduct, punitive damages.