Suffering an injury because of medical negligence can be traumatic and can result in both long-term and short-term stress.
Medical negligence is by no means a rarity either: there are almost 3000 medical negligence claims each year in Australia. If you are injured because of medical negligence and looking to file a claim, hiring a lawyer is essential to get the compensation you deserve.
We are going to take you through the top 5 questions you should be asking medical negligence lawyers. Asking these questions will help you understand the legal process, but also could help you in choosing the right lawyer for you.
1. What Qualifications Do You Have?
The experience of your lawyer can directly impact the outcome of your case. Medical negligence cases can be extremely complicated, which means you will want to make sure your lawyer is experienced and knowledgeable.
Potentially the most important qualifier for medical negligence lawyers is whether they have experience with medical negligence cases. Many lawyers can be considered ‘personal injury lawyers’ without having experience with medical negligence specifically.
Ask about how many cases they or their firm has handled, their understanding of medical negligence cases, and their knowledge of local judges and defense attorneys.
You can even ask your lawyers about their education, their published writing on the subject, and whether they have served as instructors or teachers. Understanding their full background can serve to either make you more comfortable with them, or perhaps make you want to seek other counsel.
Past Case Outcomes
You definitely want your lawyer to have experience with these types of cases, but it is equally important that they have been successful with these cases as well.
Ask them about their most recent cases and the outcomes of them, like whether they got their client a large amount in compensation, and whether they usually settle or go to trial.
2. Do You Have Resources That Can Help Me?
Many times in medical negligence cases, the use of expert witnesses and investigators can mean the difference between a large settlement and a dismissal.
Knowing whether your medical negligence lawyers and their firm have these types of resources or not is extremely important. If the firm is small or the lawyers are inexperienced, they might not have these connections that could help you.
It is also good to see how many lawyers the firm has at their disposal; sometimes the ability to put multiple lawyers on one case can be beneficial, as each one will have strengths and experience to bring to the table.
3. Which One of Your Medical Negligence Lawyers Will I Be Working With?
Sometimes the person you meet with at the firm you are considering will not be the lawyer you deal with or who handles your case.
It’s important to ask this question for a number of reasons:
Firstly, each individual lawyer will have varying experience levels. We have already talked about how experience can be crucial in these types of cases. You should know which lawyer you will be dealing with, as one could have a lot of experience and another could have never gone to trial.
You should be asking each and every lawyer you deal with all of the questions we outlined in the experience section of this article because, as we have said, everyone will have different experience and qualifications.
Secondly, you’ll want to trust your lawyer and have a contact at all times. Medical negligence claims can take months or years, during which you and your family could be suffering physically and mentally.
Trusting your lawyer is essential if you are going to see the claim through, which is why you should know exactly who is handling your case at all times.
Sometimes your case could be passed around: less experienced lawyers could handle depositions or pretrial work, while others could be the ones that actually take it to trial (if it gets there). Knowing who you should be talking to will increase your comfort level as well as your understanding of how your case is going.
4. What Types of Fees and Expenses Should I Expect?
It comes as no surprise that lawyer fees can be expensive, and medical negligence lawyers are no exception. In fact, medical negligence cases continue to increase in cost each year.
You should ask what charges you’ll face if you lose the case or have to dismiss it for some reason. Also, ask about how much the experts and investigators we mentioned earlier would cost. While they can help your case, their services can also be costly.
You should also ask what would happen in the event of a successful outcome: what percentage of the award would your lawyers get?
While most medical negligence lawyers work on what’s called a contingency fee (meaning that if they fail to get you a successful compensation, then they don’t get paid), it is always good to ask.
5. How Long Do You Think My Case Will Take?
As we have talked about, medical negligence cases are expensive. The problem with this is that medical negligence cases can also last a long time; sometimes for years.
It’s good to ask your lawyers how long your specific case will take, as it depends on the complexity of your case, the schedule of the court, experts you’ll need, etc. All of these things can prolong your case and rack up the costs.
If you aren’t up for a 5-year trial, it would be good to know that going into it by asking your lawyers for a tentative time frame.
Medical negligence can result in prolonged physical and emotional suffering for you and your loved ones.
Medical negligence trials can take years; going to the right medical negligence lawyers will ease your burden and help you feel comfortable going forward with your claim.
If you have experienced medical negligence, you have already suffered enough. Having trustworthy, experienced, and knowledgeable legal counsel is something you deserve going forward.
If you have any questions or comments about medical negligence, feel free to leave a comment below, or contact us.