According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of deaths after heart disease and cancer in the U.S. In fact, it’s estimated that medical errors kill about 200,000 patients in the U.S. each year.
Shocking, right? Handling medical malpractice cases is no piece of cake. In fact, they can be extremely long and excruciating. Such cases usually involve shedding light on technical and complex issues, which is why they tend to be extremely expensive. Moreover, in certain cases, multiple experts need to be hired in order to achieve success.
Medical malpractice takes place when a health-care provider deviates from the recognized standard of care when treating a patient. As a medical malpractice lawyer, you may have to deal with a myriad cases related to the medical community, from unlawful offenses committed by medical practitioners to wrongful practices implemented by doctors or other hospital workers.
Apart from having sound knowledge of the related laws and their practical application, a lawyer needs to take care of several other essential aspects when handling a medical negligence case.
Here are a few tips that will help you handle your cases successfully.
1. Review the Case Details Thoroughly
First and foremost, reviewing the case in depth is one of the most pivotal steps.
This involves taking care of several aspects including, securing pertinent medical records, interviewing the patient, family members, and friends.
Doing so will help you determine the strengths and the weaknesses of the case and figure out whether or not the case is actionable. Further, a meticulous and realistic analysis of the elements of negligence can help develop a strategic plan.
Don’t underestimate reviewing the citations with respect to the case. Both, expert witnesses and litigators frequently misquote the very literature that they cite. Subtleties in phrasing and statistical analysis may result in wrongful interpretations of the subject matter. Such seemingly minor errors can get in the way of assessing the case in the right manner, thereby proving detrimental to your success. Crucial advantages can be gained if an experienced medical expert meticulously reviews the citations related to the respective case.
2. Find the Best Medical Expert
Most medical malpractice cases require a medical expert or a team of medical experts to prove liability. This makes it essential to hire a quality medical expert. His/her expert opinion plays a crucial role in achieving success.
Make sure to hire one who’s board-certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. You should only consult a board-certified actively-practicing physician. Utilizing an expert with questionable credentials may prove fatal to your case.
Many attorneys rely on word of mouth as it tends to be effective in finding the best medical expert. When searching for a medical expert witness, you should thoroughly evaluate their CV and experience, and compare them to other potential expert witnesses.
3. Have a Strategic Plan in Place
The lack of an effective plan in terms of examining witnesses and involved parties can lead to absolute failure.
Having a strategic plan in place is, therefore, imperative. This requires you to have thorough working knowledge of the medical facts and the terminology that pertain to your case. Doing so will provide you with a competitive edge. Apart from reading medical books, you can work with your medical expert. He/she can be your saviour by providing you with case-specific explanations. This can be time-saving.
When it comes to handling a case effectively, make sure to hire non-testifying experts. They can freely assist you in all aspects of case preparation, and provide insight that complements the work of the testifying expert.
A second opinion ensures that the first expert’s analysis is on target and may provide you with a fresh insight into the case. Non-testifying experts often remain with the case to serve as strategic consultants. Their work is mostly protected from discovery owing to work-product rules. While this approach may seem relatively pricey, it will result in long-term savings in terms of both, time and money.
Plus, they can help you come up with pivotal questions for use in deposition and trial.
4. Establish Clear and Open Communication with Your Client
A lawyer needs to be an incredibly brilliant communicator. When it comes to handling cases of medical malpractice, you need to put in more effort for smoother communication with your client to procure the necessary details.
The attorney-client relationship needs to be a fluid partnership. Establishing the best form of communication with your client can help the entire process run smoother. Make sure that your doubts and questions regarding the case are outlined clearly. This will help the client address them appropriately. Prior to your meeting with the client, take time to jot down the details and the questions so that you can communicate them to the client in a clear and effective manner.
Whether it is conducting an expert deposition, obtaining a successful result at a trial, or understanding the complex issues pertaining to the case, there are several aspects a medical malpractice lawyer needs to take care of. Keeping the minutest details in mind will help you handle the case effectively. Moreover, they will also aid you tremendously in avoiding potential pitfalls. Litigating a medical malpractice case needs you to be efficient in terms of managing time and money. Failure to take care of the details may damage your credibility as you might lose the case. Make sure to work with an experienced and objective expert who can highlight the strengths of your case efficiently.
Rachel Oliver is a freelance writer from Florida, who loves to write about topics like personal injury law, automobile accidents law, and medical negligence law. Currently, she is writing on behalf of a civil trial attorney, Christopher Jayson, Founder at JFSW Law. He has tremendous trial experience in cases involving automobile, truck and motorcycle accidents, inadequate security and premise liability, products liability, medical malpractice, and commercial litigation.