This article will give you an insight into what an experienced medical malpractice lawyer looks for when you call his office for help.
You're at the point where you think your doctor screwed up.
You believe your doctor was careless.
You walked into the hospital just fine but now you're paralyzed.
You complained to your doctor for months and now you've been diagnosed with advanced cancer.
You were told it was a routine surgery, but you experienced every complication under the sun.
You needed three corrective surgeries and you're going to need more.
You get the sense that none of this should have happened.
Your doctor avoids the topic about whether this could have been avoided.
One of your treating doctors whispers in your ear that your injuries were preventable.
You decide it's time to find the best attorney for you and your possible case.
You start calling attorney's offices.
None have called back.
You speak to a few intake people who obtain your basic information.
Nobody has called you back yet.
You begin to suspect that you haven't presented your case very well.
YOU HAVEN'T EXPLAINED YOURSELF WELL
You suspect that you're not explaining your case in a concise way.
You're also unsure what the receptionist or the intake person needs to know.
You're planning to tell your entire story to the first lawyer who calls you back.
Your fears are valid.
You likely have not communicated effectively to the person taking your information.
You probably gave them too much information.
Information that wasn't needed or relevant to what they need to know.
Let me share with you what an attorney needs to know when you call his office.
YOU NEED TO BE CONCISE
This is NOT the time to tell the lawyer your entire story.
In fact, this initial call is just a brief screening call.
This call is only designed to see if he will invite you into his office.
It's not designed to determine if you have a valid case yet.
Nor is it designed to confirm the extent of your injuries.
HE NEEDS A HEADLINE
That means you must make your case interesting to the attorney you talk to.
"I walked into the hospital and came out paralyzed."
"I complained to the doctor about my breast lumps for months and now I've been diagnosed with breast cancer in that exact location."
"The surgery was supposed to be routine. I've now been in the hospital for 30 days and had 3 surgeries to correct the problems that happened during surgery."
WHERE DID THIS HAPPEN?
You need to tell him WHERE the wrongdoing happened.
He needs to know what hospital or where was the doctor's office.
Was it a private doctor's office?
Was it in a clinic?
Was it in a municipal hospital?
Why is that important?
Because the time limits to file a medical malpractice lawsuit are different depending on WHERE this happened.
WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
WHEN did the wrongdoing happen?
Your attorney needs to know if your matter is timely.
Since every type of lawsuit in New York has a deadline (known as a statute of limitations), the lawyer needs to know WHEN you believe the carelessness happened.
Did it happen recently?
Was it within the past two and a half years?
Was it within the past ninety days?
If your matter is NOT timely, it is unlikely any attorney will be able to help you.
That's why it's critical for you to reach out to an attorney as soon as you suspect you might have a valid case against your doctor or careless hospital staff.
WHAT WAS DONE WRONG?
WHAT do YOU think was done wrong?
The attorney needs to get a sense of what happened here.
Do NOT go on with a long-winded story about what happened.
This brief screening call is NOT the time to tell him everything.
Stay focused on the question of what you think your doctor or hospital staff did wrong.
If you go off on tangents and don't listen to the question, the attorney will get frustrated and realize this is what it will be like to work with you for the next two or three years and likely not be interested regardless of what happened to you.
If you're able to verbalize what you think your doctor did wrong, tell him.
Sometimes an injured patient simply doesn't know and that's Ok.
But tell him your concerns so he has an inkling of what type of case you might have.
WHAT INJURIES DO YOU HAVE?
What INJURIES do you have BECAUSE of what went wrong?
This is extremely important.
The attorney wants to know exactly what long-term or permanent injuries you have as a direct result of what your doctor did wrong.
There are very important reasons for asking the question this way.
The attorney must know what disability you have because of your doctor's wrongdoing.
There must be a direct connection between your injury and what the doctor or hospital staff did wrong.
If your injuries are minor, it will be very difficult to get an experienced attorney interested in your case.
If your injuries are significant, it's likely the attorney will want to meet with you to explore your case further.
HAS ANY DOCTOR CRITICIZED YOUR OTHER DOCTORS?
Has any doctor CONFIRMED YOUR belief that something was done wrong?
Your attorney wants to know if any of your treating doctors believe that there was wrongdoing leading to your injuries.
Has any doctor criticized the care you received from your original doctors?
This is helpful but not critical.
Why? Because in New York, we are REQUIRED to have a medical expert confirm that you have a valid basis for a case. We are required to have a medical expert review your medical records to determine whether you doctor violated the basic standards of medical care. He must also determine if the doctors' wrongdoing was a cause of your injury and whether your injuries are significant and/or permanent.
ONLY if all three elements are present and confirmed by a medical expert are we permitted to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
If only one or two elements are there, but not the third, we cannot proceed with a case for you.
Once you've answered those brief questions, the attorney will then make a decision about whether to invite you into his office to have a detailed conversation about everything that happened to you. At that point, he will then make a decision whether to accept you as a client and begin an investigation into your case.
Have questions about your matter that happened here in New York?
If you have not yet started a lawsuit and think you have a valid case,
I encourage you to call me at 516-487-8207 or by email: [email protected]