Have you set up a meeting with a medical malpractice lawyer after you’ve suffered pain or injury from a medical error? You may be wondering how to prepare for your first meeting. Although your lawyer will give you guidance on everything that needs to be done, you can facilitate the process by preparing the right documents and getting everything in order. Below we’ll explain what you should take care of.
Always Remember That the Decision Is Yours
First, remember that this is just a first meeting. You don’t need to select the first lawyer you meet with. Finding the right malpractice attorneys in Maryland may require a few meetings with different attorneys so you can see who matches your communication style and makes you feel the most at home. You will be sharing intimate details with this person and should have no reservations about being upfront and honest.
Medical malpractice cases have a statute of limitations that is anywhere from one to a few years, so you do not have to rush into any decisions. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for your medical malpractice case is three years after discovering your injury. Don’t hesitate to meet with a few lawyers, do your research, and choose the right one for you.
Collect All Relevant Documentation
For your first meeting with your malpractice lawyer, you’ll need some general documentation, including your social security number, your W-2 (wage and tax statement) form, and your health insurance statements. You’ll also want to have proof of your paystubs and documented time of work, as this will help you secure financial compensation for lost wages due to injury.
Prepare Medical Information
Collect all information that pertains to your case, even if you think that it may not help. For example, that antibiotic you took may have contributed to your injuries, as 20% to 50% of antibiotics prescribed in US acute-care hospitals are unnecessary or may even be inappropriate. Documentation includes your vaccination history, medical billing and payment, medical records, test results, and prescribed medications and treatments.
You should also record information on your current treatments and medications. You don’t need to bring all of this information to your first meeting, but it is a good idea to be prepared in case your lawyer wants to schedule a follow-up or asks you to email over certain documents.
Understand What Your Medical Malpractice Lawyer Needs to Prove
For you to have a legitimate medical malpractice case, your lawyer must prove certain elements: You and your doctor had an official doctor-patient relationship, the doctor acted negligently, and harm was caused by this negligence. Negligence in medical malpractice has a few different definitions, but a commonly accepted one is that the doctor did not act reasonably in a situation that any other reasonable doctor would.
Once you know what elements your case requires, you can ensure that you’re ready to give information that will prove them. For instance, make sure to bring any relevant documents that will establish your doctor-patient relationship. Go through your memories of the event and jot down any times in which you suspected or felt behavior was not right. Collect correspondences between everyone on your case.
Don’t Be Afraid to Come With Questions
Not all malpractice attorneys will have the most relevant experience for your case. It’s a good idea to come up with a few questions for your potential attorney to gauge whether they’ll add valuable knowledge to your case. Ask if they have experience taking medical malpractice cases to trial, and what the typical outcomes are like. You should also find out what medical malpractice cases they usually take.
Does their workload primarily focus on prescription medicine? What about operations? Another consideration is who will be working on your case. The lawyer who meets you during your initial meeting may not be the person you will communicate with daily. Ask about the hierarchy of the firm and who will primarily be on your case. The firm’s financial resources and connections will play a role in how it builds your case, so it’s good to know what the team has available.
Journal Your Experience
One element of a medical malpractice case is the specific financial damages, like your lost wages and medical bills. Another element is the non-specific damages, which include the emotional suffering you encountered. After your injury, keep a journal about your recovery process and how you’re feeling. Having records of your feelings will help you and your lawyer request an amount of damages that you feel accurately represents what you went through.
Since medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, it is not uncommon for a medical malpractice case to involve the death of a loved one. Keeping a journal of how you feel will be especially important not only to request damages like loss of consortium but also to help you in your emotional recovery.
A great medical malpractice lawyer will guide you through your medical malpractice case, but it doesn’t hurt to come prepared. With helpful documentation and relevant questions in hand, you’ll be all set for your first meeting to go smoothly.