Your initial consultation with an Ohio birth injury lawyer is an opportunity to get your questions answered: questions about your case, about the law firm, and about your role moving forward. The better prepared you are for that session, the more you’ll learn. You’ll also be better equipped to make an informed decision about the birth injury law firm you hire.
Table of Contents
- #1. How long do we have to file a birth injury claim?
- #2. Can you give me a rough idea of what my claim may be worth?
- #3. Are there any weaknesses in the case that I should be aware of?
- #4. What is your experience with birth injury cases?
- #5. How do medical malpractice fees and expenses work?
- #6. What can I expect as my birth injury case moves forward?
- #7. Who will be involved in the case?
- #8. What do I need to know to protect my claim?
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The questions you’ll want to ask fall loosely into three categories: questions about your case, questions about the attorney and law firm, and questions about your role in pursuing compensation. Here are some of the most important issues to address in each.
Most parents aren’t familiar with the intricacies of medical malpractice law. You know that something went wrong, and that your child was harmed. But, you may not know what the specifics of your case mean in terms of liability and possible compensation.
When you consult a birth injury attorney, ask questions like:
#1. How long do we have to file a birth injury claim?
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Ohio is one year. But, the actual calculation is a bit more complicated. Service of notice within that year can extend the time to file by up to 180 days. More significantly, the time may be extended if the injured person (or, in the case of a birth injury, the parents of the injured party) couldn’t reasonably have known of the injury.
An expert tip from Doug Mann
This is especially important in birth injury cases, as some types of injury only become clear as the child develops. Still, there’s a hard cut-off point, so it’s important to educate yourself about the limitations period as early as possible.
#2. Can you give me a rough idea of what my claim may be worth?
Note the very general wording of this question. No birth injury lawyer can promise you that you will receive a specific amount of compensation. You should be very wary of any lawyer who makes such guarantees.
Still, an experienced birth injury lawyer will be able to tell you the types of damages that may be available, an average birth injury settlement, and what similar cases have been worth in the past.
#3. Are there any weaknesses in the case that I should be aware of?
When you seek out a birth injury attorney, you’re obviously hoping for good news about the strength of your case and the compensation you may be able to secure.
But, it’s important to have a realistic view of your case, and to know that your attorney has assessed both the strengths and weaknesses and is prepared to build the best possible case on your behalf.
#4. What is your experience with birth injury cases?
Medical malpractice claims of any kind can be more complex and technical than other types of injury cases. Medical negligence claims, including birth injury cases, rely heavily on expert witnesses–both medical experts and economic experts.
That means general personal injury experience may not fully equip an attorney to provide the best possible representation in a medical malpractice case. Make sure your attorney has the experience that is directly relevant.
#5. How do medical malpractice fees and expenses work?
Birth injury cases and other medical malpractice cases are usually handled on a contingency fee basis. That means that the client doesn’t pay any attorney fees unless and until the case is settled or the attorney wins the case at trial. The payment is generally based on a percentage of the settlement or jury award.
But, that’s just the high-level structure. Some law firms charge a lower percentage if the case settles and a higher percentage if they have to fight the case at trial. Others apply a flat percentage regardless of when and how the compensation is secured.
Similarly, different firms have different policies on how costs such as filing fees and expert witness fees are billed. Make sure you have a solid understanding of what you will be paying for and under what circumstances before you sign.
#6. What can I expect as my birth injury case moves forward?
Birth injury cases can take a long time to investigate, negotiate, and potentially take to trial. Much of the work in building the case goes on behind the scenes, in the gathering of evidence, working with experts, filing technical motions, and other aspects of the case the client isn’t directly involved in.
It can be stressful for clients to feel like they don’t know what’s happening with the case, so getting a good idea of what to expect, when you can expect updates, and what the approximate timeline looks like in advance will help put your mind at ease.
This is also a good opportunity to understand more about what will be required of you as the case progresses. Then, you can focus on caring for your child and other aspects of life while your attorneys fight for you.
#7. Who will be involved in the case?
Your initial consultation will typically be with one birth injury attorney. But, there’s likely a whole team you’re not seeing during that first conversation. Ask the attorney to tell you a bit about that team, their experience, and–most important–who will be your main point of contact as the case moves forward.
#8. What do I need to know to protect my claim?
While the law firm will be doing the heavy lifting in preparing your case and protecting your rights, it’s important to know what you should and should not do. One example might be ensuring that you follow medical advice and take your child to all follow-up visits and recommended tests.
Of course, you’ll want to do that to protect your child’s health, but you may not realize that failing to do so could hurt your claim. Your attorney may also tell you to avoid talking about the injury and the case in social media or other contexts. The exact advice your birth injury attorney offers will depend on the specifics of your claim.