Two questions to ask before hiring a Texas medical malpractice lawyer

There are two important questions that I think every person looking to hire a Texas medical malpractice lawyer should ask every attorney they are considering. Here are the questions:

(1) What is your personal experience in handling Texas medical malpractice cases?

You should look at how long the attorney has practiced this complex area of the law, what percentage of the attorney’s practice focuses on medical malpractice, and what experience the attorney has in settling and trying medical malpractice cases.

(2) Will you personally handle my case to the end, or will you refer it out to some other lawyer?

Lots of attorneys advertise that they handle medical malpractice, birth injury, and brain injury cases. When you look past the surface, though, the reality is that many of them will get clients to hire them and then immediately refer them to other lawyers to handle the case. After the referral, the original attorney often invests no time or money in pursuing the case. Then, once the case is settled or there is a jury verdict, the original attorney swoops in and gets a hefty referral fee for essentially doing nothing.

This type of arrangement is prohibited by Texas rules governing the legal profession, but some attorneys still routinely do this. To comply with the rules, the original attorney must disclose the referral to the client, obtain written approval from the client for the referral, and maintain joint responsibility for the case throughout its duration.

Why it’s critical to pick the right lawyer from the start

When it comes to medical malpractice claims in Texas, it’s important to know that the attorney you select has real, direct experience and will handle your claim to the end. Here’s why.

At the urging of powerful and well-funded hospital and physician lobbyists, Texas politicians have passed the nation’s toughest set of tort reform laws. Tort reform is like one coin with two sides. The first side focuses on protecting hospitals and doctors. The second side is trying to withhold justice from medical malpractice victims by making claims difficult and expensive to pursue.

The tort reform hurdles to medical malpractice cases start even before the case is filed. Inexperienced attorneys who make errors along the way can prejudice or even kill a client’s case. Here are a few of the unique requirements that Texas law imposes on medical malpractice plaintiffs:

• Serve on every potential defendant a detailed notice of health care liability claim with a comprehensive statutory medical records release listing a long history of healthcare providers. This has to be done 60 days before the lawsuit is filed.

• After a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed and a defendant answers, a 120-day ticking clock begins, counting down the deadline by which a plaintiff must serve at least one medical expert report, accompanied by the expert’s resume or curriculum vitae. These reports are extremely detailed and must separately address the applicable standard of care, how the defendant breached the standard of care, and how the errors involved proximately caused damages or injury to the plaintiff.

In addition to the referral situation that I discussed above, we’ve had countless times at Painter Law Firm where people have contacted us after their first lawyer bungles a case and then drops them. Rookie mistakes include things such as trying to get a top-dollar settlement early on without a medical expert on board, or just sitting on the case without doing much of anything and then dropping it out of apparent desperation.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor care by a doctor or hospital, then look for a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help with your potential case. Before hiring any medical negligence attorney, though, don’t forget to ask the two questions!

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.