Birth Injury Lawyers: What You Should Know
The birth of a baby should be nothing but a joyous event. However, if your infant was injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, your concern for your new baby may overshadow your joy. If you believe that medical malpractice has occurred, you may want to talk to a birth injury lawyer. Raising a child with cerebral palsy is expensive, and a birth injury lawyer can help you get some recompense for the financial burden your family is taking on.
There are many birth injury lawyers out there, but they are not interchangeable in terms of skill and experience. Also, on a more personal note, you will not get along equally well with all of them. For something as intimate as a birth injury case, you need a lawyer you trust. With that in mind, it is imperative that you set up meetings with a few different lawyers to see which one is the best fit for you. (Note that sometimes these initial meetings are free and sometimes they aren’t, so you should ask when scheduling the appointment.)
Finding a Lawyer to Interview
There are different ways to find the lawyers that you interview, but the best way by far is to ask friends or family members for a referral. Even if they cannot refer you to a birth injury lawyer specifically, perhaps they can recommend a good lawyer who in turn can recommend a birth injury lawyer that he or she knows and respects. Lawyers often get referral fees for sending you to another lawyer, so there is incentive for them to recommend someone who will do a good job.
Other places where you can find a lawyer include the yellow pages, an online lawyer directory, and a state bar lawyer referral service. None of these services can be considered to have truly vetted your potential lawyer, however, as they often can be listed in each of these locations for paying a fee.
Only you can make the final decision about who is best for your case. The below list should assist you in your choice.
Things to Consider During the Interview
Note that you should go to your first meeting with a clear outline of the facts of your case, including information about the medical expenses you’ve had up until that point and what kinds of expenses you expect to incur in the future. This information will help the lawyer make a more solid assessment of your case.
Use this list as a starting point for what to ask your birth injury lawyer.
- Has the lawyer handled cases like yours before, and if yes, how many? What was the result of the case(s)?
- What is the lawyer’s impression of your case and what award you may potentially be given?
- What is the lawyer’s suggested strategy for presenting your case?
- How will the lawyer keep you apprised of the progress on your case? Will anyone else be working on it with him or her?
- How much do the lawyer’s fees cost? What about the lawyer’s services? (Birth injury lawyers charge either an hourly rate or a contingency fee. The difference between the two is huge: an hourly rate is paid no matter what, but a contingency fee, or a percentage of the total amount awarded, is only paid if the lawyer wins you a monetary award. The amount of the contingency fee varies, and even if there is a contingency fee, there may be additional, separate charges for other services.)
- How comfortable are you with the lawyer when you meet him or her? Do you agree with his or her assessment of your case?
- Is it possible to get references for the lawyer? (This can be difficult due to attorney-client confidentiality rules, but there is also the option of requesting references from other lawyers.)
Make sure you take notes on the answers to your questions so that you can better compare lawyers later, when you’re making your decision about who to hire.
Making the Final Decision
After you meet with several birth injury lawyers, sit down and go through your notes so that you can figure out who is the best fit for you and your case. If necessary, call the lawyers back and ask for clarification on any points you don’t understand or don’t remember. Once you make your decision and notify the lawyer you’d like to work with, ask for a written retainer agreement, a document that protects your rights and validates the contingency fee. After that, you and your lawyer can begin working together to take care of your child’s future.