How to Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Two Methods:Finding Malpractice LawyersInterviewing and Selecting a Lawyer

If you’ve been injured as due to healthcare provider’s negligence, you may need to find a medical malpractice lawyer. You may also be looking for someone to help you get justice for a loved one who has passed away due to substandard care. At a time like this, you need a trustworthy lawyer with a proven track record of success. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you narrow the field and make a good choice.

Method 1
Finding Malpractice Lawyers

  1. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 1
    Ask for a referral. If you already have a lawyer helping you with a different type of case, be sure to ask for a referral. If a family member or friend has recently pursued a medical malpractice case, find out if he or she was happy with the lawyer. If so, this may be a good place to start.[1]
  2. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 2
    Use There are many websites that can help you find a lawyer. Martindale Hubbell, a company that has provided reputable attorney ratings for decades, runs On this website, you can both search for attorneys and check their ratings. Here's how it works:[2]
    • First, go to the main page of Type in the term “medical malpractice” just to the right of the arrow in the top search box.
    • Next, type in your city and state in the box beneath the top one. If you live in a small town and don't receive many listings, enter the largest city near you, followed by your state’s name.
    • You should now find one or more law firms listed. It’s a good idea to favor those firms or listings with both a positive “Client Review Rating” and a “Peer Review Rating.” However, either one alone will still prove useful.
    • Ratings range from 1-5, with a “5” being the most sought after or “almost perfect” score. They rate either an individual lawyer or law firm. Ratings focus on knowledge, experience, judgment and other key professional traits. Client ratings measure the satisfaction of people the lawyer has represented. Peer review ratings tell you whether the lawyer is respected by other lawyers. Both are helpful.
    • Next, click on the “view phone number” icon if the number is not already displayed. Write the the number down on a piece of paper, next to each law firm’s name you want to call.
  3. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 3
    Check other legal websites. If you did not get enough options by searching, you may also want to visit and These sites also include lawyer directories and a lot of information about the law.[3][4]
    • Neither of these can offer you the attorney ratings provided by They can usually provide you with names of medical malpractice lawyers who practice near you.
    • Try to choose an attorney whose office is close to your home. You may need to visit it often during several stages of your case.
  4. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 4
    Use a search engine. If you live outside the USA or Canada, none of the websites above will contain the information you need. So, you'll need to locate some attorneys using an ordinary search engine.
    • You can start out this process by typing in the name of your city and country. Then add a plus (+) sign and the term “medical malpractice attorney” in quotation marks.
    • Spend sometime looking at individual attorneys' websites to find one qualified to represent you.
  5. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 5
    Contact your county’s local bar association. If you'd rather use the phone than search online, you can call your county's bar association. They will often be able to refer you to lawyers who handle malpractice suits.[5]
    • You should be able to find the number for your local bar association online or in the phone book.
    • In your city, you may instead need to ask to speak to the local free lawyer referral service.[6]
  6. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 6
    Contact your state bar association. You may need to do this if you are unable to reach your local county bar association. Call them up and tell them what type of case you need help with.
    • They should be able to put you in touch with your local county bar association. They may also be able to provide you with a list of attorneys who practice in the medical malpractice field.[7]
  7. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 7
    Look up your potential options on the state bar association website. The bar also regulates attorneys' behavior. Once you've created a list of possible lawyers, you should visit the state bar website. Look up any attorneys you are considering.
    • You should look to see if any of them have ever been formally reprimanded by the bar.[8]
    • Also check to see if any of them have ever had their licenses temporarily suspended for any reason.
    • If you find indications of past troubles, it may be wise to choose another lawyer.[9]
  8. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 8
    Take a look at the attorney’s website. You should be able to figure how many people work at the legal firm and whether the firm focuses on medical malpractice.[10]

Method 2
Interviewing and Selecting a Lawyer

  1. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 9
    Make some notes. Jot down the basic facts about your case before calling any attorneys. You’ll need to know the exact date of your injury, what types of damages you’ve suffered, and the name of your treating physician.
    • The attorney will probably also ask for the name of the clinic or hospital where your injury took place.
  2. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 10
    Make an appointment. Call the office of an attorney you are interested in hiring. Explain your case and ask when you can interview the lawyer.
    • Note that in some cases, the attorney may prefer to conduct the interview over the phone.
  3. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 11
    Draw up a list of questions. Before your appointment, you'll want to come up with a list of things to ask the attorney, which you'll write down and bring with you. Here are some questions you may want to ask:[11]
    • Ask what percentage of the attorney's cases involve medical malpractice issues.
    • Find out how long have he or she has been representing clients in these types of cases. Ask if the firm has staff members who are qualified to read and understand complex medical records.
    • Some attorneys only represent clients with specific types of injuries, so you'll want to ask about this. If the attorney does handle your type of case, ask how many such cases he or she has handled.
    • Ask what range of either settlements s/he has negotiated or verdicts s/he has obtained in cases that were like yours. Be ready to hear that all cases are quite different and that you’re just getting a general estimate. This just means your lawyer doesn’t want you to have false hopes about what your case may be worth. Also, s/he can’t know the value of your case until s/he has fully investigated it.
    • Ask how long such cases normally take. Expect to hear that these types of cases are often very complex and can take several years.
    • Find out if the person you’re talking to will represent you, or it will be another attorney in the office. Ask if there will be a paralegal or the attorney himself/herself providing you with regular updates.
    • Ask if the firm will represent you on a contingent-fee basis. This means that the law firm will not charge you for their services unless they win your case. If this firm does win your lawsuit, they will subtract all expenses related to your case from any settlement or verdict . They'll also subtract their actual attorney fees. Keep in mind that few plaintiffs can ever afford to fund this type of case. You should be leery of an attorney who offers to take your case on an hourly basis, because they probably lack faith in your case.
    • Ask them if they have malpractice insurance.
    • Ask if the attorney has ever published any legal journal articles on your type of lawsuit. Similarly, ask if he or she has taught any State Bar CLE (Continuing Legal Education) classes to other attorneys in this field. It is great if the attorney has done either of these, although many just spend all of their time representing their clients.
    • Ask if this lawyer belongs to the American Association of Trial Lawyers (“ATLA”). This indicates that s/he is very committed to this type of work.[12]
    • Ask how soon you must let the firm know if you want to hire them.
  4. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 12
    Interview the attorney. Once you've finished preparing for the interview, meet with the attorney to ask your questions. This will give you a chance to determine if this the right lawyer for you. Here are a few tips for the interview:
    • Keep in mind that many lawyers may charge you a nominal sum (often no more than $50) to meet with them for about thirty minutes in person. They may not want to visit long with you on the phone. Or, they may limit the call to briefly finding out if you even have the type of case they usually choose to accept.[13]
    • If the firm does not want to take on your case, be ready to take notes about why. Ask if the firm knows of another lawyer or firm that might be more interested in your type of lawsuit. It is possible you will not be able to find an attorney. Law firms are wary of taking on some medical malpractice cases because they can lose a fortune if they don’t win the case.[14]
    • Be sure to tell the firm if you’re going to need the regular services of a language translator.[15]
    • Be sure that you’re comfortable interacting with this lawyer, as you may be working together for several years. These types of cases often take a long time to settle or take to trial.
    • If you have any misgivings about the firm, it’s wise to go ahead and meet with at least one other lawyer before choosing.[16] Do keep in mind that a larger law firm is more likely to have all the financial resources required to fund your case as opposed to a smaller one.
    • If you are impressed by what you’re hearing and by the law firm’s credentials, schedule an appointment.
    • Ask if the first consultation with the lawyer is free. Many firms still offer this service. However, some nowadays may charge you a nominal sum like $20 - $50 for a half-hour appointment.
  5. Image titled Select a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Step 13
    Make an agreement and sign the paperwork. Once you have decided on a lawyer, you will need to sign a contingent fee contract and to release your medical records to the attorney.
    • A contingent fee contract is agreement between you and lawyer about fees. They contracts specify that you will not pay the lawyer up-front. Instead, you agree to turn over a certain amount of your award if you win the case.[17]
    • You will need to sign medical record release forms for every healthcare provider involved in your lawsuit.[18] You'll also need to release records from everyone who has participated in your care since you suffered your injury. If you’ve been seeing a psychiatrist or therapist, you may want to contact this person. For privacy reasons, you may want her or him to submit only a general summary of your recent visits.


  • In some cases, you may just be wanting to sue a hospital for the negligence of one of its employees. Be aware that the law only allows lawyers to take on these types of cases within a set time frame. If you have failed to contact a lawyer for help in time, they may be legally barred from taking on your case.
  • Try to move forward with your life as best you can during the lawsuit. Even if you do win, it will probably be several years or more until you’re awarded any money.
  • Remember, it’s your right as the plaintiff to decide whether to accept any settlement offer. It is not your attorney's right to do so. It’s a good idea to ask his or her advice about the adequacy of the offer, though. Your attorney will know if you’re likely to do better by turning down the offer and indicating you’re ready to go to trial.
  • In general, you are entitled to at least bi-weekly telephone updates on your case. There will be times, though, when little is happening.
  • If your lawyer doesn't return your calls or provide regular updates, express your dissatisfaction. If matters don't improve, you can request your file and try find a new lawyer.[19]


  • Law firms often hire expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases. These witnesses provide depositions or court testimony that make your case stronger. But, they are also expensive. It’s not unusual for 50% or more of your settlement or verdict to be lawfully claimed by your attorney's firm. They will take their share before you ever receive a check. As a client, you’re entitled to a detailed listing of the firm’s expenses tied to representing you.
  • Lawsuits can be unpredictable. Never assume you’re going to win and start spending money foolishly.
  • If you must change lawyers in the middle of a lawsuit, be aware that your first attorney will have a right to recoup his or her expenses.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (16)

Article Info

Categories: Retaining a Lawyer | Finding a Medical Specialist