How to Choose the Right Medical Malpractice Lawyer

How to Choose the Right Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People place their health and wellness in the hands of medical professionals and trust that they will receive the treatment they need for their medical conditions or injuries. While doctors can’t guarantee treatment outcomes, they must provide competent care that meets the medical standards for their areas of medicine.

Unfortunately, some medical providers violate the trust of their patients and provide negligent care. When a provider’s medical negligence injures a patient, the victim can pursue compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. The medical profession has established standards of care for healthcare professionals because of the severe harm that patients can face when their providers deviate from their professional obligations.

Finding the right medical malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia can make the difference in whether a claim is successful, but many people don’t know how to start their search. If you believe your injuries or your loved one’s death was caused by the medical mistakes made by a healthcare professional during treatment, here is what to know about medical malpractice and how to find the right Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer to handle your case.

What Is (and Isn’t) Medical Malpractice

Before you start searching for Philadelphia medical malpractice law firms, it’s first important to understand what medical malpractice is and what doesn’t qualify for a claim. Medical malpractice is a type of legal claim that can be filed by injured patients or the surviving family members of patients who die when their injuries were caused by the medical negligence of a treating practitioner. To qualify as a viable malpractice claim, the treatment the medical professional provided must have deviated from the standard of care expected of practitioners in the same geographic region with a similar level of skill and experience who provide treatment to patients in the same area of practice.

What Is the Expected Medical Standard of Care?

To determine whether you have a viable malpractice claim, you will first need to determine the expected standard of care for the healthcare professional you believe was medically negligent and caused your injuries. However, the standard of care expected of healthcare professionals varies based on several factors, including the level of skill and education the professional has, the geographic area where they practice, whether they have a specialty or instead practice general medicine, and others. Since the expected standard of care differs based on these and other factors, Philadelphia medical malpractice law firms, including Raynes & Lawn, work closely with medical experts to determine the relevant standard of care for specific practitioners who are suspected of malpractice.

Pennsylvania law also requires medical malpractice plaintiffs to file a certificate of merit with the court in which they attest that their records have been reviewed by a medical expert who can testify that the provider’s care deviated from the expected standard of care and caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In general, the expected standard of care for a medical provider is the type of care a reasonably competent practitioner who works in the same field in the same region and has the same skills and education as the provider would provide under similar treatment conditions. Determining the relevant standard of care and then analyzing the treatment provided by the practitioner is the first step in determining the viability of a malpractice claim.

More than Negligence

Medical negligence must be proven to succeed in a medical malpractice case. Negligence occurs when a medical provider’s care deviates from the expected standard of care. However, not all situations involving medical negligence will rise to the level of medical malpractice. Instead, a malpractice claim involves situations in which a healthcare professional’s medical negligence caused a patient’s injuries or exacerbated their medical condition and resulted in actual damages.

If you learn that your doctor made a medical mistake, but you did not suffer any injuries because of it, you will not have a viable malpractice claim. Similarly, if your medical provider negligently caused a minor injury but didn’t cause you to suffer any calculable damages, you will not have a viable claim.

Examples of What Is Not Medical Malpractice

The following are some examples of what might not constitute medical malpractice:

  • You were left unconscious and injured following a car accident, and a paramedic broke your ribs while providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to save your life. Pennsylvania has a Good Samaritan law that precludes lawsuits in these types of situations.
  • You underwent elective cosmetic surgery on your nose and were fully informed about the potential risks beforehand, but still opted to go through with it. You subsequently experienced an altered sense of smell after your surgery, which your doctor had informed you was a risk of the procedure.
  • You went to your doctor because of feeling a lump in your breast. Your doctor told you that you were fine. You then immediately sought a second opinion and discovered you have early-stage breast cancer. Since you had no delay in getting the diagnosis and treatment, and your condition didn’t worsen, your original doctor’s negligence didn’t cause any injuries or calculable damages and wouldn’t support a malpractice lawsuit.
  • During a successful surgery to remove your child’s appendix, the doctor’s hand slipped while he was removing the scalpel and slightly nicked your child’s skin. Your child suffered a minor cut that healed within a couple of days and didn’t leave a scar or cause an infection. In this situation, the doctor’s error likely did not deviate from the standard of care, and your child’s injury was so minor that there also likely were no calculable damages.
  • Your 75-year-old father had a massive heart attack. The doctors in the emergency room promptly treated him and tried what they could to save his life, but he sadly died. In this case, even though you didn’t receive the outcome you wanted, you likely would not have grounds to file a wrongful death malpractice lawsuit.

It’s important to understand that not every instance of medical negligence will amount to medical malpractice. You also won’t have a malpractice case if it is only based on your dissatisfaction with the outcome of treatment. Instead, you must be able to prove each of the following elements to have a viable malpractice lawsuit:

  • The healthcare professional’s expected standard of care
  • The healthcare professional’s treatment deviated from the expected standard of care
  • The substandard treatment directly caused your injuries or those of your loved one
  • You suffered calculable damages as a result of the provider’s medical negligence and your injuries.

If you can’t prove one or more of these legal elements, you won’t have a viable claim.

Now that you understand what constitutes medical malpractice and what doesn’t amount to it, here’s how to find a good medical malpractice attorney in Philadelphia if you believe you might have a legally valid claim.

Do You Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Pennsylvania?

Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex because they require an in-depth understanding of unique legal and medical issues and terminology. Pennsylvania also requires plaintiffs to file a certificate of merit that their claims have been reviewed by medical experts, and there are procedural and evidentiary rules that must be followed. While you are not technically required to hire a medical malpractice lawyer, you are unlikely to succeed if you try to represent yourself in this type of lawsuit. Even if you don’t retain an attorney, you’ll still need to find a medical expert in the same field of practice to review the documents and medical records in your case before you file.

Because of these factors, it is best to retain an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer to handle your case for you. A competent malpractice attorney will review the evidence in your case and provide an honest assessment of your claim’s legal merits. If they agree you have a valid claim, your attorney will handle all aspects of the claim on your behalf.

What to Look for in a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Because of the complex legal and medical issues and factors involved in medical malpractice lawsuits, it’s important to find a lawyer who has substantial experience handling these types of legal claims. Lawyers who primarily practice in other legal areas and have little or no experience handling malpractice lawsuits should not be under your consideration even if they have been licensed to practice law for a long time.

Instead, you should search for Philadelphia medical malpractice law firms that include medical malpractice claims as a main focus area and can demonstrate that they have represented medical malpractice victims for many years. For example, the medical malpractice law firm of Raynes & Lawn has represented malpractice victims for more than 50 years. While this depth of experience can’t guarantee the outcome of your case, it can indicate that an attorney from the firm has a deep bench of knowledge and access to resources needed to provide skilled representation in your case.

During your search, you’ll also want to narrow down firms and attorneys by who they typically represent in lawsuits. Attorneys who practice in the area of medical malpractice law either represent plaintiffs or medical providers. As someone who was injured or who lost a loved one because of the actions of a healthcare professional, you will want to find a firm that represents plaintiffs.

It’s important to understand that experienced malpractice lawyers often decline representation, so it might be necessary to consult several firms before you find an attorney willing to represent you. Attorneys sometimes turn down valid lawsuits due to the number of clients they are already representing. If you have a good case, a competent attorney should still explain that to you even if they don’t have the availability to represent you at that time.

Thankfully, most medical malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia offer free consultations, so you can take some time to interview several before making your choice. Your consultation provides you and the attorney with the chance to talk about your claim and determine whether to form an attorney-client relationship.



Where to Begin Your Search

If you are sure you have a viable malpractice claim and are ready to find an experienced attorney, it might be difficult to know how to do so. Below are some tips you can follow to help narrow your search down until you have a short list of a few attorneys or medical malpractice law firms in Philadelphia to interview.

1. Ask for Recommendations

One of the easiest ways to get a few names of attorneys or firms is to ask your family, friends, and acquaintances for recommendations. While your friends and family members might not have experience with medical malpractice claims, they may have hired attorneys in the past to handle other types of claims. If you get the names of a family law attorney, car accident lawyer, business attorney, or lawyer who practices in another area of law, contact that firm’s law office. Even though the lawyer doesn’t focus on medical malpractice law, they might have some medical malpractice attorneys in their network that they can refer you to. Members of the legal community often know who the lawyers with the best reputations in their respective practice areas are, so this can be a good way to obtain some names of lawyers to investigate.

2. Check the Pennslyvania Bar Association

The Pennsylvania Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service. You can submit a form with a few details about your case to receive the names of medical malpractice lawyers in your area. While an attorney’s membership in the Pennsylvania Bar Association doesn’t guarantee that they are competent and qualified to handle your case, searching for the names of medical malpractice law firms in Philadelphia can help you screen out attorneys and firms that focus on other areas of the law.

3. Search a Prospective Attorney Online

Once you have a few names from referrals or the PBA, you should then search for any attorneys you are considering online. Read reviews from past clients on sites like Yelp and Google. However, take into consideration that some former clients might post negative reviews of good attorneys if they didn’t win their cases. Instead, pay attention to the balance of positive to negative reviews, and read them with a critical eye.

Look up each attorney’s or law firm’s website. Read through their practice area pages and look to see if they have a blog. If there is a blog, read a couple of articles to evaluate whether they provide useful information and how frequently the blog is updated. An active blog with useful information is a good indication that a law firm prioritizes its clients and takes the practice of law seriously.

You should also take a look at the firm’s medical malpractice lawyers and review their biographical information. Pay attention to how long they have been licensed, whether they focus on medical malpractice claims, and whether they have received recognition for their work. You can also take a look at past case results that the firm has published. While a law firm’s past results are no guarantee that your case will achieve a similar outcome, a record of success demonstrates that a law firm and its attorneys have the wherewithal to successfully handle medical malpractice lawsuits.

4. Check Law Firm and Attorney Rating Websites

Several organizations provide ratings for attorneys and law firms. Some of the most reputable and respected organizations that do so include Martindale Hubbell and Martindale Hubbell provides attorney and law firm ratings based on the reviews of their peers in the legal community. The highest rating, AV-Preeminent, is a peer-reviewed rating that is only granted to lawyers who have been licensed to practice law for years, have substantial experience, and have been recognized in the legal community for having the highest level of legal skills and ethics in their practice. also rates attorneys on a scale of one to 10. You can check this site to see whether a prospective attorney has been rated and what their rating is.

Checking lawyers and firms on these sites can help you identify those that have earned the highest levels of respect and recognition in their professions and can help greatly narrow down your search.

5. Check for Disciplinary Records

Once you have narrowed down your list, you should check the website of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. You can search an attorney by name, location, or bar number to learn several important things, including when the lawyer was licensed in Pennsylvania, whether their license is active, and if they have had any current or past public disciplinary action or sanctions against their license.

Take Advantage of Free Consultations

After you have narrowed down your list of potential attorneys and firms to four or five after checking their reviews, biographical data, and license information, you can schedule consultations. As previously mentioned, most medical malpractice attorneys and law firms offer free consultations.

Recognize that your consultation with an attorney provides you with the opportunity to interview them and determine whether you trust them to handle your case. You should be prepared to ask questions, so bring a list with you. You should also anticipate the attorney will ask you plenty of questions about your case and situation to make an initial assessment of your claim’s legal merits.

Here are a few questions you might want to ask:

  • What percentage of your cases are focused on medical malpractice law?
  • Have you taken any medical malpractice cases to trial? If so, what were the results?
  • What percentage of your cases have gone to trial vs. being resolved through settlement?
  • Have you handled any cases with similar fact patterns as mine?
  • Who would be handling my case?
  • How do you communicate with clients?

While most medical malpractice lawsuits are resolved in settlements, you still want to make sure the lawyer you choose has trial experience. If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, you wouldn’t want to have a lawyer learning on the job while representing you at trial. Law firms with significant, verifiable trial experience are often able to secure better settlement offers from malpractice insurers because of the reputation they have built.

You’ll also want to confirm who would be handling your case if you retained the firm and whether it would be the lawyer you speak with. If another attorney would be primarily responsible for handling your case, ask if you can meet with them. Finally, ask about the firm’s communication methods and who you would speak with if a question arises.

Ask About How the Fees Are Structured

Most medical malpractice attorneys offer contingent-fee arrangements, which means that they won’t charge you legal fees for their services unless and until they successfully recover compensation for you through a settlement agreement or jury verdict. They typically charge a percentage of any settlement or verdict and will disclose that percentage to you upfront.

Many malpractice lawyers charge anywhere from 30% to 40%. However, it doesn’t always make sense to go with the attorney who charges the lowest percentage. Instead, choose a lawyer with whom you feel most comfortable in their legal skills, knowledge, and competence. Even if the attorney you choose charges a slightly higher fee percentage, they might also be able to recover a greater amount of compensation for you than a less-experienced malpractice attorney.

The other thing you should ask is how the firm handles costs during the case, including such things as expert witness fees, filing fees, and others. Some firms ask clients to pay those types of costs as they arise while others don’t charge until and unless they win your claim. You need to understand how your attorney structures their fee agreement, and they should be willing to explain it to you if you need clarification.

Schedule a Consultation Today

As someone who has been seriously harmed by the medical negligence of a healthcare professional, you need to speak with an experienced malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The law firm of Raynes & Lawn has more than five decades of experience representing malpractice victims and has recovered billions of dollars on their behalf. To learn more about your potential claim and the help we might provide, call us today at 1-800-535-1797.


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