If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, you may choose to hire a birth injury lawyer to investigate precisely what happened and determine if a medical error led to your child’s condition. Choosing a lawyer can be overwhelming, especially if you have never participated in a lawsuit before. The following list of questions to ask an attorney may be useful in deciding whether to pursue a case with them.
- “Does your firm focus specifically on birth injury cases?” Birth injury cases are very complicated, and it is important to choose a lawyer that understands both the medical and legal intricacies involved. Many firms advertise their services in birth injury law. However, a lot of these firms do not have experience handling these cases, so they contract them out to firms with more experience handling them. If you go directly to a niche birth injury firm, you will be able to form a more personal relationship with your attorney, and your case will likely receive a lot more attention by experts who exclusively handle these cases.
- “Do you have any medical professionals in your legal team?” Birth injury lawyers tend to be very well versed in the medical and legal aspects of birth injury cases. However, medical professionals, specifically those who have worked in obstetrics or a NICU, have a unique ability to recognize subtle forms of malpractice. Some firms employ nurses with relevant experience to speak to clients, review their records, and provide insight into what types of errors may have occurred during or shortly after the birthing process. These nurses are able to pick up on forms of malpractice that might not be as immediately obvious to a lawyer; therefore, these firms are able to explore cases in more detail and have a better chance of securing compensation for their clients.
- “If we don’t win, will I lose money?” The most ideal birth injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee policy: if they don’t win or settle your case, you pay nothing. There is no risk of you losing money from this type of suit.
- “How much compensation do you usually secure for clients?” Most attorneys will post their recent wins and settlements. However, this number does not necessarily reflect how much the clients actually obtained. It may include lawyer fees and other lawsuit-related expenses, payback to insurance companies, etc. When comparing numbers, it is important to know whether you are looking at totals, or the actual annuity the families received.
- “What are some of your credentials/biggest accomplishments?” You can ask a prospective lawyer to tell you about how long they have been in practice, whether they have any leadership positions in legal groups specific to birth trauma, such as the Birth Trauma Litigation Group, and what sort of awards they have won. This will give you a broader picture of how qualified they are to take on your case and how they are viewed by their peers.
Choosing a lawyer can seem complicated, but it really boils down to a few important considerations. Once you have settled on one, the case itself should not take up very much of your time, with the exception of important dates when you will needed. Your attorney will need to talk to you about your experience with the birth of the child in question to get a better sense of what may have gone wrong. However, this should only take a few hours. The rest should be handled by the law firm, in consultation with medical experts. While the case is ongoing, you should be free to go about your daily life, and will have plenty of time to care for your child(ren). A caring attorney will understand that parents’ number one priority is the well being of their children; that is, after all, the primary reason for pursuing a birth injury case in the first place.