When you or a loved one have been injured or has died as a result of suspected medical negligence / medical error in Maryland, our lawyers know that it is difficult to know what do, who to call and what your next steps should be in order to determine if you have a medical malpractice case that is worthwhile pursing. Here is what you can expect from our firm and our lawyers when you make that initial phone call to us.
Upon answering your call, our receptionist will transfer your call to one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys. During the call, our attorneys will take down your general biographical information and then ask you to explain as many of the details of your potential malpractice case. Our attorneys will do their best to construct an accurate timeline of events from the information that you are able to provide to us. In some instances, based upon the information that you provide, our attorneys will be able to tell you that your case is unlikely to be able to be successfully pursued. In other instances, our attorneys may ask you to provide us with additional information in order for us to determine whether it may be a viable case.
If our experienced attorneys believe that you may have a sustainable case, they will schedule you for an in-person meeting with all of the necessary family members or surviving beneficiaries. It is very important that we be able to meet (or speak) with all injured members of the family or all surviving beneficiaries of an individual who has deceased (for example, the surviving spouse, children or parents), as they each may have claims in the case that must be pursued. At the in person meeting, which will either take place in our office or at a mutually convenient location, you will meet with one of our medical malpractice lawyers as well as our in-house nurse. Together, we will once again review the pertinent facts giving rise to your claim, go over the timeline of events and review any documents or medical records that you might already have obtained. In addition, we will seek additional information from you regarding your medical history, treating doctors over the years and any other pertinent information.
Based upon this information, our team will make a determination as to whether your case merits additional investigation and review of all of the relevant medical records. If such an investigation is merited, we will have you or your loved one enter into an agreement with our firm that spells out the legal services we will provide to you in exchange for the compensation we will receive, IF we are successful on your behalf. At STSW, all of the medical malpractice cases that we pursue are taken on a contingency basis. This means that we advance all costs in expenses and do not ask for any money from you up front, and only ask that we be repaid those costs (along with our attorneys’ fees) if we are successful in securing a settlement or trial verdict in your favor. Our attorneys’ fees are based upon a percentage of the gross recovery. In short, if we ultimately determine you do not have a case or we are unsuccessful in pursuing your case, you owe us nothing.
In addition to having you sign our customary fee agreement, we will also ask that you sign a HIPAA medical records authorization permitting us to get your medical records from your various doctors. We will then immediately request your records from these doctors. It typically takes 4-6 weeks for us to receive your complete set of medical records. Once we receive your medical records, our nurse and experienced medical malpractice lawyer will both review the records to see whether they show (or do not show) evidence of a medical mistake.
If, after reviewing all of the relevant medical records, we believe they show evidence of medical malpractice, our attorneys will send your records to a medical doctor within the same specialty of medicine as the potential defendant doctor for he/she to review. You see, in Maryland, in order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit (unless it is an informed consent case), you must have what is called a “certifying” doctor sign an affidavit, stating that he/she believes the defendant doctor committed medical malpractice. It is not enough for our lawyers to believe there is medical malpractice. Simply put, these doctors (who we call experts) must be willing to testify that there is a greater than 50% chance your injuries/death would not have occurred if your doctor had not breached the standard of care and committed medical malpractice. If we are able to find a physician/expert who is willing to testify in that manner, then we will call you and tell you that we are able to pursue your case. As you might expect, many doctors in Maryland are unwilling to testify against their fellow doctors in Maryland. Accordingly, we will usually seek to find doctors outside the state of Maryland to review our clients’ records and assist us as expert witnesses.
Once we know that are able to pursue your case, our office will always make an effort to try and settle your case (prior to filing a lawsuit) with the defendant or his/her insurance carrier. Although pre-suit settlements are rare, we understand that a quick resolution may often be in everyone’s best interests and prevents you from having to go through a litigation process that in most instances can last 1-2 years.
In addition to retaining the expert(s) who will offer opinions in support of your case – that the doctor who treated breached the standard of care – we will also hire other medical or economic experts to testify how the medical negligence caused you injury, the nature of your injuries, what impact the injuries have had on your ability to live a normal life and what impact to your life there will be in the future. For example, we hire outside nurses to testify on what types of medical equipment, care and services you may need in the future while you recover from your injuries. We also sometimes hire economists to testify on the economic losses you have sustained such as past/future medical expenses, past/future lost wages/earnings or loss of future health benefits.
After retaining all of these experts and ruling out the possibility of pre-suit settlement, our lawyers will file your lawsuit. We will then serve a copy of the lawsuit upon the defendant doctor(s). They will have 30 days to file a response to the lawsuit. At that time, the Court will issue what is called a Scheduling Order setting forth certain dates by which time certain parts of the case need to be completed. The Court will also set a trial date in your case. Typically, depending on the jurisdiction the case is filed in, your trial will be set 12-15 months after the date the defendant files his response to the lawsuit.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, call our lawyers at STSW for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.