How to Find The Best Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Philadelphia
Suffering injuries or illnesses can be stressful for patients and their families. When you seek medical care from a doctor or another healthcare professional, you likely expect that you will receive quality treatment for your condition. Doctors are expected to provide care meeting certain medical standards. Unfortunately, however, things can go wrong and cause you to suffer serious injuries or a worsened condition.
Pennsylvania law allows patients and their families to seek compensation when they have suffered injuries and losses because of medically negligent actions or inactions of their healthcare providers. If you believe that your injuries were caused by your medical provider’s mistakes during treatment, you might have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice claim to recover compensation and ensure accountability.
While you are not required to retain a lawyer to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania, it is not a good idea to try to pursue your claim on your own. Medical malpractice cases are extraordinarily complex and require you to understand both complex legal and medical concepts. The state also requires you to meet certain pre-suit requirements, including finding a qualified medical expert to review your case.
Working with a malpractice lawyer might help you meet all of the procedural requirements and determine whether you have a viable claim. Even if an attorney tells you that you don’t have a viable case, speaking to the lawyer can help save you time and money that might otherwise be wasted when pursuing a fruitless claim.
When you are searching for an attorney, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of medical malpractice attorneys in Philadelphia and not know how to identify the right lawyer for you. This guide provides information about how to find a competent medical malpractice lawyer you trust to vigorously represent you.
What Is a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers are attorneys who focus on cases involving people who have been injured by the negligent actions of medical professionals while undergoing treatment. Medical malpractice is a subset of personal injury or tort law that requires substantial knowledge of both legal and medical concepts and terminology. Because of the complexities involved, the resources required, and the length of medical malpractice cases, many personal injury attorneys do not accept medical malpractice cases. When you’re looking for a lawyer, you’ll need to verify the attorneys you consider represent people in medical malpractice cases before scheduling consultations.
Before filing a claim, you should know what constitutes medical malpractice. You won’t necessarily have a viable claim based on your unhappiness with the recent medical care you received. Instead, medical malpractice cases involve specific legal elements that you and your lawyer will be required to prove before you can recover compensation.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals are expected to meet specific standards of care when they deliver treatment to patients. Malpractice occurs when a provider injures a patient while treating them because of medical errors when the treatment deviates from the applicable standard of care.
Injuries can be caused by a doctor doing something improperly or failing to do something a reasonable doctor would have done in the same scenario. For example, a doctor accidentally amputating the wrong limb would be an example of medical malpractice. Similarly, a doctor failing to send a patient to the emergency room when the patient is experiencing severe chest pains and has a history of high blood pressure would also qualify. By contrast, a doctor negligently prescribing the wrong medication to you would not qualify if you noticed the mistake and returned the medication to the pharmacy without taking any.
Some scenarios fall into gray areas and are not as clear-cut as the above-listed examples. If you were injured or suffered a significantly worsened condition following treatment, you should consult a medical malpractice attorney to determine the merits of your potential case. An attorney can review your medical records and give you an honest assessment of whether to move forward with the claims process or if your claim is not viable. This can help you understand whether what happened to you might qualify as medical malpractice.
Before you schedule consultations, consider the following elements of malpractice to help you figure out whether you might have a viable case:
- You and the medical provider formed a provider-patient relationship. The provider must have formed a professional relationship with you before you can file a claim. This means that you sought treatment, the doctor agreed to provide it, and took an affirmative step to do so.
- The relevant standard of care. This varies for medical providers based on their fields, communities, education, and training. Your doctor must provide treatment with the same skill that a reasonably competent doctor in the same practice area in the community would provide under the same treatment conditions.
- Breach of the expected standard of care. You must show that your doctor’s treatment deviated or fell below the relevant standard of care.
- Causation. You must show the doctor’s substandard care caused your injuries or worsening of your condition.
- Calculable damages. You must have suffered significant losses because of your doctor’s negligence and your injuries, including pecuniary losses and/or non-economic losses.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Attorney Help Me?
There are several ways a medical malpractice attorney might help you if you’ve been harmed by a negligent medical provider. The laws surrounding medical malpractice are complex, and you’ll also need to contend with complicated medical terms that you might not understand. A medical malpractice lawyer must graduate from law school and obtain a license to practice law in Pennsylvania. They should also be highly knowledgeable about medical malpractice cases and the procedures that must be followed to secure the most favorable outcome.
A competent medical malpractice lawyer can communicate with the insurance company for you in a way geared toward facilitating a good recovery. When you have been injured, you should be able to concentrate on getting better instead of dealing with the malpractice insurer. When you’re represented, all communication about your case will flow through your lawyer so you don’t need to worry about it.
An attorney should understand the pre-suit requirements in Pennsylvania and find an appropriate medical expert to review your medical records. This can let you know from the outset whether you have a viable claim before you file.
When you are represented, your attorney can guide you through the legal process and keep you apprised of everything that occurs. Medical malpractice attorneys understand the procedural and legal rules that govern all aspects of the claims process and can help prevent mistakes along the way.
An attorney can help you understand the value of your potential case and evaluate the strength of your evidence. If a lawyer accepts representation in your case, they should zealously represent your interests and work to recover the maximum amount you deserve.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Medical Malpractice Attorney in PA
When you are beginning your search, consider these factors:
1. Online Reviews and Presence
When you’re searching for a medical malpractice lawyer in Philadelphia, read online reviews to see what other people have experienced when working with the attorney. Check their website and evaluate whether they provide helpful information and have a professional approach. While some reviews are inaccurate, you can look for recurring themes, awards, or complaints. If you see that numerous past clients have complained about an attorney’s lack of communication, that should be a red flag for you.
2. Attorney Ratings and License Information
Several peer-reviewed platforms for attorneys exist that you should check, including Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo.com. Search for the law firm and attorney you are considering on these sites to gauge how they are viewed by their peers and former clients.
You should also search for an attorney’s license information on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board’s website. The lookup tool allows you to confirm their license is active and see whether they have received any disciplinary sanctions.
3. Attorney Fees
While your attorney’s fees should be a consideration, it’s important to note a few caveats. First, good medical malpractice law firms like Raynes & Lawn work on contingency fees. This means you won’t have to pay anything upfront to retain a lawyer or pay any legal fees until and unless your lawyer recovers compensation for you through a settlement or verdict in your favor.
A second factor to consider about attorney fees is the percentage a lawyer charges. With a contingent fee agreement, your attorney will be paid an agreed-on percentage of what you recover if you secure a settlement or win a trial. When your attorney receives the money for you, they will take their percentage out of the total amount. This might make you think that you should go with the malpractice lawyer who charges the lowest percentage. However, you shouldn’t bargain shop for a quality attorney. In some cases, attorneys who offer low percentages lack the experience needed to secure the highest recovery for you.
The third financial factor to consider is how the law firm handles other legal costs. Some firms do not have the resources to cover related costs while a case is pending, including expert witness fees, depositions, filing fees, etc. Make sure you ask about whether you will have to pay these associated costs while your case is pending or if the firm instead covers them for you and instead takes the payment from any recovery you ultimately receive.
4. Area of Practice
It should go without saying that you should look for a lawyer who practices in the area of medical malpractice. While all attorneys have to earn a Juris Doctor and gain admission to the bar to practice law, you want to make sure the attorney you hire practices in the area of medical malpractice. A divorce attorney will not be equipped to handle a medical malpractice case, just like an attorney who practices medical malpractice wouldn’t be a good choice to handle your divorce.
5. Experience With Medical Malpractice
You also want to make sure the lawyer and firm you choose have substantial experience. Ask a prospective lawyer how long they have been licensed. Then, ask them how many years they have worked in the area of medical malpractice. Look up the law firm’s history to see how long it has represented people in medical malpractice cases. Ask any attorney you consult whether they have experience with cases similar to yours. If so, ask about the outcome.
6. The Firm’s Resources
A good medical malpractice firm should have extensive resources available. Medical malpractice cases tend to be lengthy and expensive to litigate. You’ll want to ensure the firm you choose can handle the added expenses it takes to litigate your case.
A good firm should also have a network of doctors and other medical professionals who can review your case and provide expert opinions about the standard of care and the treatment you received. Ask a prospective lawyer about how they go about finding a medical expert or if you’re expected to do some of the legwork yourself.
7. How the Attorney and Firm Communicate With Clients
You should find out how the firm and the attorney you consider handle client communications. Some attorneys prefer email communication while others prefer phone calls. Ask a lawyer how their firm will communicate with you and whether someone will be available to answer any questions you might have as they arise. Make sure you are comfortable with the communication style the firm uses. No matter which way the firm communicates with clients, make sure that your attorney will always keep you up-to-date with what is happening with your case. Ask who will be the point person to address your questions if you contact the firm.
Questions to Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
After you have researched various medical malpractice attorneys and law firms in Philadelphia, you likely have narrowed down your list of attorneys to four or five. Thankfully, most medical malpractice attorneys offer free consultations. These initial appointments allow you and the lawyer to assess whether to work together and if you have a viable case. Be prepared to ask questions. It’s a good idea to bring a comprehensive list with you to discuss with each prospective attorney.
Questions to Ask About the Attorney’s Past Cases
Ask each attorney about their past cases to make sure the lawyer you retain has substantial experience with medical malpractice cases. You’ll want to select a lawyer and firm with a strong record of success and verifiable case history. Consider asking the following questions:
- Do you focus on medical malpractice? If so, what percentage of your cases are dedicated to medical malpractice?
- How many medical malpractice cases do you and your firm currently have?
- How many medical malpractice plaintiffs have you represented in the past three years?
- Is your experience primarily with plaintiffs or defendants?
- Have you represented anyone with a case involving a similar fact pattern as mine?
- Can you tell me about past successful outcomes you have had in medical malpractice cases?
Questions About Professional Recognition
You’ll want to choose a lawyer who is respected by the legal community as well as clients. If a lawyer is recognized as being a strong attorney, insurance companies and defendants are likelier to offer a fair settlement instead of risking a loss at trial. Ask about awards or accolades they have received. Consider the following questions:
- Are you a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers?
- Are you rated by Martindale-Hubbel, and if so, what is your rating?
- Have you received any awards?
- Have you taken cases to trial? How many? What were the results?
- Can you tell me about some notable cases in which you represented a medical malpractice plaintiff?
Questions About Your Case
A large portion of your consultation should be focused on your case. You should expect the attorney to ask you a number of questions about what happened, the evidence you have, and more. This helps the attorney evaluate your case to make an initial determination about its viability. You should also ask questions. Here are a few to consider:
- Which types of experts would be needed for my case?
- How do you go about helping me to find expert witnesses?
- What are the strengths of my case? What are the weaknesses?
- Can you give a rough estimate of how long my case might take?
- What are the types of damages that might be available?
Questions About How the Firm Works With Clients
Each firm takes a different approach to working with clients. Some attorneys work closely with each client, and others have paralegals handle routine tasks. To get to know an attorney’s work style and how the firm works with clients, ask the following questions:
- If I retain you, who will be working on my case? If a paralegal will be assigned, can I meet them?
- Who will answer my questions if I contact the firm?
- How often will you contact me with updates?
- Do you have past clients who would be willing to speak to me?
What if a Lawyer Won’t Accept Your Case?
After consulting a few attorneys, you might find that no one is willing to take your case. There are a variety of reasons why an attorney might turn down your claim, including the following:
- You’re past the statute of limitations. For most medical malpractice cases, the deadline for filing a lawsuit is two years. There are some exceptions, though, so you’ll still want to check with a lawyer.
- Your losses are too small. Medical malpractice cases are expensive to litigate. If your losses were minor, the expenses involved with litigating your case might be more than your eventual recovery. This would make it financially unfeasible to pursue your case.
- The evidence to support your case is too weak.
- While you are unhappy with your treatment, it didn’t amount to medical malpractice.
Speaking with experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Philadelphia is the best way to determine whether your claim has legal merits. If a couple of medical malpractice attorneys decline representation, you might not have a viable claim. An attorney’s decision to decline representation is not a statement about you as a person. Instead, if you learn that your case is not viable, your consultation likely saved you significant time that might have been wasted.
Why Choose Raynes & Lawn for Medical Malpractice in Philadelphia?
The law firm of Raynes & Lawn is one of the most respected firms in Philadelphia. Our experienced attorneys have zealously represented medical malpractice plaintiffs for more than 50 years, and our firm has extensive resources available to litigate medical malpractice cases and pursue maximal compensation for our clients.
Over our years of practice, we have recovered billions of dollars for our clients through a combination of six- and seven-figure settlements and jury verdicts. We pride ourselves on delivering quality representation to every client and will keep you updated on everything that happens in your case.
When you meet with one of our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers, we will take the time to carefully evaluate your case. We will honestly assess your claim’s legal merits and explain its strengths and weaknesses. If we agree to represent your claim, our attorneys will work hard from the start to build the strongest possible case for you. To learn more about your claim, call us to schedule a free case evaluation today at 1-800-535-1797.
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