Washington D.C. Medical Malpractice FAQs
Q: How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case?
A: Most medical malpractice cases require these key elements:
- Proof that a doctor, nurse, or some other health care provider did something wrong, or failed to do something that should have been done; and
- Proof that the substandard care caused an injury or death.
If there was bad care, but you suffered no injury, generally there is no case.
If there was acceptable care, but you suffered a recognized complication, you may not have a case.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will carefully investigate your claim, including all medical records, images and slides, and will have it reviewed by experienced independent medical experts to determine if the care was really substandard and if the substandard care caused permanent injury or death.
I carefully screen all of our cases and will not take a case unless we are confident that it is very strong.
Q: How do I pay for an experienced attorney to file a medical malpractice claim?
A: Most attorneys experienced in medical malpractice take these cases on contingency fee agreements. Most firms take a 40% because these cases are very complex and require significant funding of expenses by the firm during the litigation. In general, I have a tiered fee arrangement for these types of cases. If I am able to resolve your case early our agreement provides for a lower percentage attorney fee, which means more funds go to the client and the family if we can resolve it early.
Regardless of the exact percentage, the term “contingency fee” generally means the client does not pay attorneys’ fees unless your lawyers are successful in getting a settlement for you or they get a verdict and you get paid after a trial. You also want to make sure your attorney agrees to pay all the litigation costs upfront on your case as these can be very expense, these include fees for medical experts, deposition fees and court costs. With most attorneys you are not expected to pay these costs back unless and until there is a settlement or verdict, at which time these litigation costs will be repaid out of the settlement proceeds.
Can I file a medical malpractice lawsuit any time after I have been harmed?
No. In every state there are time limits by which you have to file your lawsuit. Many states, including DC, Maryland and Virginia, have other requirements that must be met before the lawsuit can be filed. In Virginia there are certain requirements regarding expert reports that must be accomplished before the lawsuit can be served.
It is very important that you find an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to represent you and that you After an initial phone interview, if the case seems like it might have merit, I will meet with you or speak with you at length by phone if it is hard to meet in person under the circumstances. I do make house calls or come to the hospital when necessary. My team then gathers all of the evidence we need to have experts review the care in question to obtain answers. In some instances, we will want to put the hospital or doctor on notice to preserve certain evidence such as videotapes of procedures or paper sign in sheets that might otherwise not be saved.
If I suspect my child suffered brain damage during child birth but he is now 10 is it too late?
Probably not, but that depends on the state laws and the circumstances. You need to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who has experience handling birth injury cases. These cases can be quite complex and not all malpractice attorneys have personal experience handling these cases.
Many times parents do not know the extent of the problem until the child starts school and sometimes not until school becomes challenging.
If patient or the parents signed a consent form at the hospital can we still file a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Yes, if you have a valid claim. The consent form does not mean you agreed to be treated improperly and harmed. It does not mean that you have waived your right to have safe care. It also does not mean you have agreed to accept the risk of all complications that might occur. The form is not a waiver. Contact an experience malpractice attorney to discuss the facts in your case as soon as you can.
How long does it usually take to settle a medical malpractice claim?
These are complex cases and they can take some time to investigate thoroughly and once filed it can take 12-18 months in the court systems in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. An experienced lawyer will explain to you that more and more of these cases are going to trial in today’s climate. In fact, even the strongest cases are still settling at the end of discovery, fairly close to trial. This makes your decision about counsel even more important. Make sure to ask how many complex medical malpractice cases the attorney has actually tried to verdict in this area. This is a very specialized area of law and we see the same attorneys and firms in most cases. The defense attorneys, judges and the insurance companies who specialize in medical malpractice know which attorneys are capable of trying these cases and which firms have the resources to fund these cases all the way to trial. Your best chance of getting a full and fair settlement for your claim is if you hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney to advocate for you and your family.
If you have question or want more information please call 202-803-5800 or email Ms. Bertram to learn more.