6 Qualities to Look for in a Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The United States tops the chart as the most expensive country in the world for medical care. With the extremely high rates that we pay for our healthcare, we should be able to expect competency and world-class treatment.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Every single year countless patients suffer at the hands of negligent medical providers. When a victim is injured through the negligent actions of their medical provider, this is called medical malpractice and may entitle the victim to bring a medical malpractice claim against the provider.
The laws surrounding medical malpractice cases are complex, making them much more difficult to win compared to traditional personal injury claims. Your best option is to seek legal representation from a skilled medical malpractice attorney, but for many victims, it can be hard to know where to even begin, especially if you have never had the need to hire an attorney before.
Here at Peter Angelos Law, our medical malpractice lawyers have a long history of winning cases for clients in the medical malpractice arena. If you are considering a claim in Maryland, call us, and we can arrange a free initial consultation and case evaluation.
Call us today at 410-705-2405
Here are the qualities we think are important in a medical malpractice attorney.
6 Qualities to Look for in a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
A Proven Track Record
The most important quality, in our opinion, is the proven ability to win cases for clients. The more cases that your potential attorney has won in cases similar to yours, the better equipped they are for the job, as it allows them to draw upon past victories and their experience when it comes to tailoring your bespoke strategy.
You can check your attorneys’ past victories on their results page, or you can go to independent sites like AVVO.
When asked about their previous track record for winning cases, all good medical malpractice attorneys will be more than happy to tell you about the medical malpractice claims they have won for previous clients.
Experience in Your Local Area
Finding an attorney that works in your state is always the best option, and one that has experience in your local area is even better. Take our law firm, for example; we have been serving the state of Maryland for over 50 years. This has allowed our law firm to do several things.
Firstly, we have garnered a reputation that precedes us. Many of the state’s insurance companies will think twice about going head-to-head with an attorney from our law firm because we are known for winning cases. This makes it more likely that they will treat you fairly and offer a reasonable settlement, forgoing the need for court involvement.
Secondly, the large number of Maryland medical malpractice cases our team has handled means that we have worked with many of the Judges, and attorneys that may be working for the other party. These working relationships can give you an advantage as we have a better idea of their personalities and the way that they work.
Finally, over the years, we have created a vast wealth of resources in the areas we serve, such as connections with some of the state’s best medical experts. As medical expert testimony is always important when it comes to a medical malpractice lawsuit, this can be instrumental in your case.
Impeccable Communication and Organization Skills
An experienced medical malpractice attorney that has a strong record will normally have a full caseload of clients, and this means that their organizational skills are incredibly important. You need to be assured that they will allocate your case the time that it deserves, and you want to ensure that they will be prompt to respond to you when you need to get in touch.
They should work hard to keep you educated and informed throughout the entire process, regardless of how busy they are with other clients.
While you cannot expect to have 24-hour access to your attorney, they should have clear boundaries and respond to you in a prompt manner.
The Right Qualifications
Obviously, your attorney should have the correct qualifications to practice law in Maryland. The top lawyers in the country are the ones who have gone through the strict and rigorous training that the state’s top universities provide.
Once they have passed the bar, they should have completed all of the education sessions that are on offer to keep their knowledge up to date and current. When researching your attorney, you may want to check their history on their website or on an independent site like AVVO to see where they studied.
You may also want to look for accolades and awards such as the Super Lawyer award or Best of the Bar.
For example, take our founder Peter Angelos, The Baltimore Urban League presented him with its Whitney Young, Jr. Memorial Award for his commitment to furthering the quality of life for the Citizens of Greater Baltimore. He has also been honored by the NAACP, the Associated Black Charities of Maryland, and the Johns Hopkins Allen L. Berman University Real Estate Institute. In 1998, The Baltimore Sun named Peter Angelos as its man of the year.
Or Thomas Minkin, who has been listed as a Super Lawyer in Maryland, as well as a 2015 and a 2018 lifetime achievement award by the Baltimore Building & Construction Trades Council and the Daily Record, respectively.
A Caring and Compassionate Personality
Because of the sensitive nature of medical malpractice lawsuits, you may find yourself having to discuss highly personal matters with your attorney. This makes it important that you feel comfortable in their presence, as you may be dealing with your Maryland medical malpractice claim for several years to come and may have to discuss various aspects of your health and medical records throughout.
When you have a compassionate attorney handling your medical malpractice case, the entire process will be less traumatic for you. If you are already dealing with mental distress, physical pain, and emotional trauma due to the incident, this is important for your recovery.
The Right Fee Structure
At Peter Angelos Law, we are passionate about our belief that all medical malpractice victims should have the opportunity to pursue compensation for their pain and suffering and should have the opportunity to recover their medical bills and lost wages.
For this reason, we think medical malpractice law firms should work on a contingency fee basis, as this allows victims to pursue their claims without the fear of losing. Under contingency fee basis work, the victim does not have to pay upfront for representation or pay a penny if they lose their case. They simply pay a percentage of any settlement or damages that are awarded if their case is successful.
We offer a free initial consultation and case evaluation, allowing victims to ask the questions they need with no strings attached. We aim to educate and empower victims so they have the confidence to pursue their claims and hold their medical providers accountable for their actions.
How Does Maryland Medical Malpractice Law Define Malpractice
Once you have secured representation, their first step will be a case evaluation. During this meeting, they will ask the questions they need to deduce whether you have a valid case and have been a victim of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider breaches the duty of care that they owe you, and their breach of this duty of care has led to you suffering injuries or the aggravation of a previous condition. Because the breach happened due to negligence, it means your injuries were likely preventable.
A negligent act or behavior is any act or behavior different from how another competent medical provider would have acted if they were in the same situation.
Four Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case
There are four important elements to proving negligence, and it is crucial that your attorney can prove all four, especially if your case ends up in court, where they will be expected to prove each element in front of the Judge and Jury.
- Firstly, you will need to prove that the party responsible owed you a duty of care. Almost all medical providers automatically assume a duty of care to their patients.
- Secondly, the medical provider’s actions meant that they breached this duty of care.
- Thirdly, this breach in the duty of care directly caused your injury or harm.
- Finally, this harm resulted in you suffering an injury that required medical treatment and damages on your behalf.
Common Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Your medical provider should be trained to diagnose what is wrong with you promptly when presented with the symptoms you are suffering from. If it takes them too long to diagnose your condition, known as a delayed diagnosis, or they fail to diagnose your condition altogether, you may suffer injuries.
This may be because you do not get the treatment you need in a timely enough manner or at all if they have failed to diagnose you.
Often equally or more problematic as a failed or delayed diagnosis is a misdiagnosis. The reason why a misdiagnosis, which is when a medical provider diagnoses a patient with the wrong condition, can be worse, is that the patient may receive the wrong treatment or procedure.
Firstly, this may prevent them from receiving the right treatment in a timely enough manner. Secondly, the treatment they are given could have a negative interaction with the true condition they are suffering from.
Being given the wrong treatment for a serious condition could prove disastrous, causing serious side effects or in the most tragic cases, could lead to the wrongful death of the patient.
Emergency Room Errors
Emergency room employees receive additional training to equip them with the skills they need to deal with the additional problems and stress they will face daily. The steady flow of critical patients that an emergency room sees needs to be prioritized correctly to ensure that the most critical patients receive treatment immediately.
Unfortunately, through either a lack of training or due to understaffing or budget cuts, emergency room employees can make mistakes. If you have been left for a long time in the emergency room without receiving the care you need, your injuries may have worsened. As a result, you may have grounds to make a claim.
Your medical providers owe you and your child a duty of care during your pregnancy and during the birth. During your pregnancy, they should carry out extensive fetal monitoring. This includes testing for conditions that can be tested through ultrasound, blood tests, and fluid tests.
During your birth, the right procedures need to be followed, and decisions need to be made in a timely manner when it becomes apparent they need to be made. A common example of this is the need to convert a mother to a c-section in a timely manner. This is why it is so important that the baby is monitored for any signs of fetal distress.
Prescription Medication Errors
Prescription medication may have negative interactions with a patient’s current medication or conditions. This makes it important for your medical providers to look at any potential medication they plan to give you and to go through your medical records. Common errors are a failure to note an allergy or incorrect medical records.
If surgeons do not follow the accepted standard of care or act without due care and attention, the consequences can be serious injuries or even fatalities. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you are offered conservative treatments before any surgical procedure and that the surgeons follow the accepted standards of care.
If you have been pushed into surgery without the option of exploring more conservative treatments, and you have suffered from a known risk, you should discuss your case with an attorney.
Before a patient undergoes any procedure that is going to require them to need anesthesia, there should be a full review carried out by an anesthesiologist. This review should include checking the patient’s medical records for current conditions and medication, as well as checking for allergies and the necessary time the anesthesia needs to work.
When a full review is not carried out or is carried out incorrectly, anesthesia errors can occur, such as the anesthesiologist administering drugs to which the patient is allergic or using an anesthetic contraindication which can lead to injury or death.
The following are the most common forms of anesthesia error:
- Anesthesia dosage error
- Delayed delivery of anesthesia
- Patient monitoring failures
- Dangerously prolonged sedation
- Failure to recognize and respond to anesthesia complications
- Failure to properly inform a patient of instructions for before, during, or after the procedure
- Faulty equipment
- Shutting off the alarm on the pulse oximeter
- Failure to intubate
- Failure to notice adverse drug interactions
Medical Record Errors
Ensuring that your medical records are kept up-to-date and accurate to avert mistakes is essential. It is vital to be aware of past conditions and allergies as this can help to stop you from being administered medication that could conflict with your current medication or trigger an allergy.
Common errors include things like double dosages of medication or the incorrect dosage being given due to the mixup of measurements like mg and mcg.
Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland
Maryland’s statute of limitations places a time limit on victims of malpractice to make a claim. This time limit prevents cases from being filed many years down the line where they will be difficult to prove.
According to these statutes, you only have 3 years from the date of the injury to raise a claim. If the injury was only discovered later, you have 5 years, but no longer than 3 years from the date the injury was discovered.
Who Can You Bring a Medical Malpractice Suit Against?
Most health care providers and medical providers that owe you a duty of care can be found negligent, including:
- Nursing Homes
- Healthcare Companies
- Aids or Assistants
- Many other medical providers
What Damages Can You Recover Through a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit under Maryland Law?
Working out what damages you have suffered and placing a figure on your pain and suffering is massively important as this will give your attorney a figure to negotiate with. When negotiating a settlement with the other party, the better calculated your damages are, the harder they are to dispute.
Your attorney will begin by calculating your economic damages, the costs you have suffered that have a clear figure. Things like medical bills and lost income come under economic damages. They are easier to evidence as there will likely be a bill or physical invoice that you can present.
Next, they will work out your non-economic damages, which are the subjective damages without a price tag. These are usually the more substantial damages and will require your attorney to use their experience in past cases to judge what a fair and reasonable sum should be awarded to cover them.
Often, the way that an attorney will work out a value for your non-economic damages is to judge how serious they are on a scale of 1-5, then apply that number as a multiplier to your total economic damages.
For example, injuries that have caused you a lot of pain, but are likely to heal quickly without long-term problems may be a 2x multiplier, whereas a life-long disability or chronic pain may result in a 5x.
Here are the most important damages that you should be aware of:
- Medical bills – One of the major damages that will need to be recovered is the medical bills and expenses you have accrued as a result of the malpractice. You should not be left out of pocket or have to claim on your own healthcare to cover the costs of your treatment when it was caused by the negligence of your provider. It is important that you keep all records of your treatment, including bills and invoices and if possible, a timeline of your treatment and pain levels.
- Loss of wages and earning capacity – If you have had to take time off work because of the incident to recover or receive further treatment, and you have suffered from a loss of wages, these should be recovered in your case. If your injuries are serious, and you will not be able to return to the same career in the future, you should be compensated for the loss of earning capacity, and your attorney may need to work with financial experts to help them accurately judge what this is worth.
- Pain and suffering – As the most substantial damages in the majority of cases, your pain and suffering damages compensate you for the physical pain and emotional trauma you have been through and may also include loss of enjoyment of life compensation. Loss of enjoyment of life is to compensate you for things you cannot do that you used to, such as carrying your child to bed or riding your bike.
Filing a Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland
The most tragic outcome following an incident of medical malpractice is when the injuries caused by the malpractice lead to the death of the patient. Wrongful death claims are extremely complex and must be handled by an attorney that has a lot of experience in the intricacies involved.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit will give the family the opportunity to seek justice for their loved one and obtain compensation for their loss. This money can help to cover costs such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of support or services, potentially providing some financial relief during this difficult time.
Medical Malpractice FAQs
How long do medical negligence claim cases take?
There are so many unique variables and factors in each medical malpractice claim that there is no average time for them to take. The length of time a case will take will depend on the complexity of the case and the individual skills of the attorneys on either side of the table.
When liability is clear and the other party knows it, there is a good chance that the case will be over in the shortest period possible. If your injuries are complex and the other party wants to argue that there was no negligence, the case may take a long time.
How are medical negligence cases funded?
Many of the law firms that serve Maryland work on a contingency fee basis, ours included. This allows us to work for victims without them fearing what happens if they lose and without having to pay up front for representation. If the case is lost, they will not be out of pocket and will not owe their attorney anything.
Do all medical negligence cases go to court?
Around 7 in every 10 medical malpractice cases settle without the need for court involvement. If you have a strong case, and have an attorney with a good reputation, your chances of receiving an out-of-court settlement that is fair and reasonable are high.
However, 30% of cases will require the need for litigation, which is why it is so important to choose an attorney that is aggressive and skilled in the courtroom.
Should you accept the first offer of compensation?
One of the more common tactics used by insurance companies that defend negligent medical providers, is to calculate what the stand to lose very early on in the case. With this number in mind, they may offer a quick settlement that is much lower in the hopes the number is still attractive enough for you to accept.
This is because they know that in the long term, they may have to pay out a lot more, and once you have accepted the settlement, you forgo the right to pursue any further compensation relating to that incident.
This is why it is crucial that you always discuss any offer of settlement with your attorney. If the offer is truly reasonable, they will tell you, but in most cases, the first offer is way lower than the true representation of your damages. Your attorney will know the true scope and will have their own figure in mind. Once the other party has offered you a settlement, this then creates the space for negotiation between the two figures.
Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys May be Able to Help
When a medical provider acts negligently, the victim should not have to suffer from medical bills and lost wages. When you seek medical attention, you expect your provider to be competent and provide you with the level of care you deserve.
When you do not receive this level of care and you have been injured as a result, your best option is to seek reliable representation from a skilled attorney backed by a reputable law firm.
At Peter Angelos Law, we believe our history of success, both in and out of courtrooms across the state, speaks for itself. We are proud of our reputation as one of Maryland’s most capable law firms.
We take the time to build the client-attorney relationship, keeping our clients informed and in the loop at all times.
Call us today at 410-705-2405.