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From time to time, we get asked, “Can I sue for medical malpractice without a lawyer?” It’s understandable why someone might want to: if there is no lawyer, then there are no legal fees. It’s natural to want to keep as much of your recovery as possible after you have been injured—but it’s also important to understand what is involved in a medical malpractice case, and what a good lawyer brings to the table.

The short answer to the question above is yes: you can technically sue for medical malpractice without a lawyer. However, there are reasons that virtually nobody does.

Why Medical Malpractice Cases are so Challenging

Medical malpractice cases are not like many other lawsuits; they are significantly more complex, with much highly technical information. If you do file a medical malpractice lawsuit, the “fun” is only beginning. You will be going up against large insurance companies and medical providers who probably have their own teams of attorneys devoted to defending them against medical malpractice claims. Unless you have legal training, it’s quite possible that those experienced lawyers will get your claims dismissed right out of the gate for procedural reasons. Even if they don’t, you still have a long, hard road ahead to prove your case.

Proving Your Claim for Medical Malpractice

It’s not enough that you went to a provider for medical care and had a bad result. You have to be able to prove that that outcome was the result of your doctor’s negligence, and then you have to prove your damages—the amount of money your medical provider should pay you.

That means gathering a lot of evidence, including your medical records, and doing a lot of investigation. There is a vast amount of red tape involved in gathering the records you need, and you should expect that the medical provider is not going to make it easy on you. They may not outright deny you documents you have a right to, but they may drag their heels, or count on the fact that you might not realize that certain documents have not been provided.

Even if you finally get all the material you need, there’s a good chance that you may not know how to interpret it. That’s not a knock on your intelligence; most people lack the background to interpret complex medical and legal documentation and then use it to prove that a doctor or medical provider breached the standard of care, AND that that breach caused your injury, especially if there was indirect causation.

The other side not only has an army of lawyers; those lawyers have an army of expert witnesses who are experienced in breaking down complex information and explaining to a jury why, in their opinion, the medical provider’s conduct didn’t rise to the level of medical malpractice. Unless you have similarly skilled and respected witnesses to help persuade a jury that your provider did commit malpractice, your case is likely to go nowhere.

Medical malpractice cases are among the most complex and expensive cases to prove. Even many personal injury lawyers won’t handle medical malpractice matters, because they lack the experience and resources to investigate and prove these claims. It’s even harder for claimants themselves, who are also dealing with the pain of their injury and their own financial concerns.

How an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Helps

Successfully proving a personal injury matter is expensive: gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, paying court fees and expert witness fees—it all adds up fast. It’s nearly impossible for most injury victims to manage those expenses on their own. That’s why medical malpractice attorneys don’t charge their clients anything unless they win a case for them. The attorney assumes the risk of all of the expenses necessary to win the case, and then has an even stronger incentive to recover for their client.

A law firm that handles a lot of medical malpractice cases also has the experience to effectively investigate claims and make a reasoned decision about whether they are worth pursuing. Attorneys won’t drag their clients through a long, expensive case if there’s not a reasonable hope of recovery.

If there is a good case, a medical malpractice attorney will have systems in place for gathering and interpreting evidence, and will know how to draft effective pleadings and argue in court. Attorneys who handle a lot of medical malpractice also have relationships with respected experts whose guidance and testimony can help them win the case.

If you do have a viable case, the chances are good that a skilled attorney can help you recover more money than you otherwise would have. Insurance industry research has consistently found that injury victims with an attorney are not only more likely to recover damages, but the amount of damages they recover is almost 3.5 times more than that recovered by unrepresented claimants. So, yes, if you win your case you’ll have to pay your attorney, but you’ll have a larger award from which to do so.

Perhaps the most important reason to work with a medical malpractice attorney is that, as an injury victim, you have enough going on. Your priority should be regaining your health and spending time with the people you love. Let your attorney handle the stress of investigating, drafting documents, meeting filing deadlines, and preparing for trial. It’s what they’re trained for.

To learn more about how an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you, contact the Fraser Law Firm to schedule a consultation.