If your baby suffered one or more birth injuries, you likely were unprepared for the onslaught of emotions you are experiencing. It is normal to feel angry, frustrated, and stressed . You also may be unsure of how to proceed. That is where a birth injury attorney can help.
After a birth injury, parents must juggle the needs of their family while making a lot of decisions very quickly. One of those decisions is whether you will seek legal action against any party involved in the child’s birth injury experience. Many parents of injured babies are overwhelmed at the thought of interviewing and consulting with an attorney. However, this is an important step in ensuring that your legal rights are protected.
Finding the right attorney can take away some of the pressure and stress you are currently feeling. But how do you know who the best attorney is for your situation?
10 Questions to Ask a Birth Injury Attorney
The team at Birth Injury Guide offers recommendations for 10 questions to ask your prospective birth injury attorney.
1. Are you a birth injury attorney, or what areas of law do you specialize in?
Birth injury is a very specific subcategory of medical malpractice law, which is itself exceedingly complex. Not only should your birth injury attorney have medical malpractice experience, but he or she should have birth injury experience specifically.
You wouldn’t use a hammer to drive home a screw – you need a screwdriver. Likewise, you need the right kind of attorney for a case as important as a birth injury claim. Though the American Bar Association (ABA) doesn’t recognize specialties among attorneys, experience in a concentrated area of practice is extremely helpful in birth injury claims.
2. Will other attorneys work on this case, and who are the members of the legal team?
When you schedule the initial consultation, ask for the names and direct numbers of all members of the team who will work on your case. Will you continue to work with the lawyer who initially meets with you? Will another associate weigh in as well? Should you expect to talk to paralegals or legal assistants when you call the office?
3. Why do you think I have an actionable claim?
This question is a chance for the attorney to showcase his or her level of expertise with cases like yours. Birth injury claims hinge on three important legal concepts:
- Duty of care – You must establish that a professional relationship existed, and that the provider had a duty of care to you and your child.
- Negligence – You must prove that the provider breached this duty or failed to uphold the medical standards of care.
- Damages – You must prove that the provider’s negligence caused harm, which resulted in physical, emotional, or financial losses.
An experienced birth injury attorney should evaluate your individual experience against this three-pronged test and be able to tell you how he or she plans (in general) to successfully argue each element.
Keep in mind that this is a judgment call made on little more than your recollection of the events. Details and specific tactics are likely to change as the legal team digs deeper into the facts of your case. Regardless, in an initial consultation a skilled birth injury attorney should be able to clearly and decisively explain why he or she is willing to take your case.
4. How much do you know about the specific birth injuries my child sustained?
Ask the attorney about the number of cases he or she has handled that involved your child’s specific birth injury. Not all birth injury cases can be pursued in the same way. Common birth injuries that can result in very different outcomes include:
Each one is a very different condition, with varying causes. It would be best to work with an attorney who is familiar with the medical and legal aspects of your child’s specific situation.
5. How closely do you work with medical professionals?
Most states require the testimony or sworn statement of an expert physician witness as part of the process of a birth injury claim. When interviewing an attorney, ask about his or her network of medical professionals. A successful birth injury attorney will have access to well-respected physicians in a wide range of medical specialties.
6. What is your record of settlements and verdicts?
A birth injury attorney with a wealth of experience will be able to call to mind a list of favorable outcomes to give you an idea of their rate of success. Not all cases go to trial, but that does not mean that the case is lost. Many birth injury claims are settled before entering the courtroom.
Settlements are agreements that victims make with the at-fault party at any time prior to the entry of a jury verdict. Settling a case may or may not involve taking a case to trial. Verdicts are the judgments handed down by juries after a trial. They can establish fault as well as attach a monetary value to the damages suffered by the victim. You may also find it useful to know jury verdicts are public record, while settlements are usually private.
7. How frequently do you go to trial?
The majority of birth injury claims settle before a trial date appears on the horizon. For that reason, many birth injury attorneys may appear to have ample experience, but their CV is missing one crucial thing: trial experience.
If your case proceeds to trial, you will want an experienced trial attorney on your side. Pre-litigation and litigation matters are two different paths to success. Ideally, your birth injury attorney will be highly skilled and experienced at both.
8. Can anything be done to improve the chances of the case being successful?
When it is your own child’s health and future at stake, you may feel that you need to be very involved in the legal process. However, your participation is only strictly necessary in certain official capacities such as:
- Signing and returning HIPAA releases in a timely manner
- Answering all questions honestly
- Being present for all court dates
The best case scenario is one in which you and your attorney come to an understanding regarding your preferred level of involvement. If you feel you need to call the office once a week for a full update, make it known. Setting expectations from the outset is vitally important for a mutually comfortable attorney-client relationship.
9. Can you provide references from past clients?
Because of attorney-client privilege, you won’t be able to speak directly to any former clients. However, well-respected birth injury attorneys usually have a portfolio of reviews and testimonials from past clients. Beware of any attorney who doesn’t have reviews, testimonials, or satisfied clients to refer to.
10. Can I count on you to treat me with compassion throughout the case?
For a matter so sensitive as your baby’s pain and suffering, it is important to take into account any prospective attorney’s personality. Dealing with the legal realities, medical bills, and everything else that comes with having an injured infant will be stressful enough. There is no reason to start your case with an attorney you find unsympathetic or you feel doesn’t understand you.
Get Help from a Birth Injury Attorney Who Cares
At Birth Injury Guide, our passion is helping families who have been harmed by medical negligence. Birth injuries are one of the most traumatic experiences any family can suffer. At Birth Injury Guide, our birth injury attorney offers support and guidance you can count on. Your focus should be on your family.
If you have more questions about working with a birth injury attorney, or would like to speak with a team member at Birth Injury Guide, call 1-877-415-6603. You can also schedule a free consultation via our online contact form.