Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: What to Expect

Working with a lawyer is simpler and easier than you might think

Nearly every day, the lawyers and staff members at Berman & Simmons receive calls and emails from people in Maine who think they may have been harmed by medical malpractice.

Perhaps their doctor failed to diagnose a serious health condition like cancer. Or a loved one recently died in the hospital and they want to know if proper care was given. Some of these callers are certain they have been wronged. But the vast majority don’t know if they have a case or not. They simply want to know what happened, why the mistake occurred, and how it can be prevented for others.

No matter the circumstances, most people who contact us feel stressed out and overwhelmed. They have a lot of questions and they’re nervous about talking to a lawyer.

Let us put your mind at ease. The process of speaking with us should absolutely not add to your stress. It doesn’t need to be scary or intimidating. In fact, working with one of our lawyers is simpler and easier than most people think.

In Part 1 of our “Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer” series, we’ll look at common emotions people experience when they contact us. We’ll discuss what you can expect from our attorneys and staff. And we’ll walk you through the process of how we determine whether or not you have a case. Part 2 will answer common questions (FAQs) about the process and working with a medical malpractice lawyer.

4 common emotions people experience in medical malpractice cases

Failures in our healthcare system — including hospital injuries and errors by doctors, nurses, and other providers — are among the leading causes of injury and death in Maine and around the U.S. People who have been harmed often feel betrayed by the professionals and institutions they once trusted. So it’s no surprise that for them, emotions run deep.

Here are some common emotions people are feeling when they contact us about a potential medical malpractice case:

Nervous about the process.

This is especially true for people who have never needed to consult with a lawyer or worry about wasting their valuable time. What will they think of me and expect from me? What if I’m a train wreck, and don’t have any notes prepared? What if my injuries are affecting my energy, mobility, memory, or ability to think clearly?

Relax. All those things are OK. We talk to people every day who are facing the most difficult challenges of their lives. We expect a roller coaster of emotions. You do not need to have any notes prepared. All you need is to be yourself, speak with us honestly, and be willing to tackle your problems with us. We will help you through the process, from finding solutions to your immediate needs to helping you manage your ongoing medical care. Everything we discuss is confidential and protected under the law. It is never a waste of time for us to work with people in need of help. That’s why we do what we do.

Worried about money.

Many people who contact our medical malpractice lawyers are already struggling to make ends meet. They have a table piled high with medical bills and other debts. They’ve lost time at work, or are disabled. Naturally, they can’t take on other expenses. They want to know: How much will it cost for a lawyer to review and take on my case?

You pay nothing up front and nothing unless we win your case. We will talk with you, evaluate your situation, including doing research and thoroughly reviewing your medical records, free of charge. This is true even if we decide you don’t have a viable claim. If we do take your case and win a settlement or a jury verdict in your favor, a percentage of the compensation goes to pay for our costs and the work done by our legal team (i.e. record gathering, filing fees, document handling, travel, etc.). The percentage varies depending on the details and complexity of the case.

Ashamed of suing.

“I’m not the type of person who sues someone.” “I’ve worked with my doctor for years and really respect him/her.” If this is how you feel, you’re in good company. It says a lot about your values and that you view the justice system and lawsuits seriously. So do we.

There’s often discomfort or feelings of guilt in taking legal action against another individual or an organization. We understand that. But there are other factors that must be considered. When doctors are negligent and someone is hurt or killed, they must be held accountable. This helps make sure healthcare companies put safety first. Our civil justice system is designed to provide you with fair compensation if you are harmed by the negligence of others.

Angry at the situation.

Your life has been turned upside down. No one would listen to you. Doctors talked down to you. You couldn’t get clear answers. You felt isolated, overwhelmed, and powerless. These are common experiences of people who have been harmed by medical malpractice.

We give you the space and time to express that anger. It’s our job to listen and make sure you are heard! The frustration you have experienced, in fact, is part of your case. We want you to feel safe and protected and we will do everything we can to help you regain your voice, your power, and get back to living your life.

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Step by step: From the first conversation to a decision about your case

Clients come to Berman & Simmons through a number of different ways. Some are referred to us by other law firms or individual lawyers throughout Maine, New England, or around the country. Others hear about us through relatives, friends, or searching online.

Always, the first task is for us to determine whether or not you have a valid claim. This can take a few hours or days, or a period of months for more complex cases. Maine has strict statutes of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim, so it’s critical to consult with us as soon as possible if you think you might be a victim of an error by a doctor, hospital, nursing home, or other healthcare provider.

Here are the initial steps in determining a case:

  • STEP 1: Consultation. Call us, fill out the simple form on our website, or stop by one of our offices in Portland, Lewiston, or Bangor to start the process. Initial conversations between potential clients and our staff members are usually done over the phone. Everything we discuss is confidential and protected under the law.
  • STEP 2: Review of records. We will obtain all your relevant medical records on your behalf. In most cases, you will not have to confront your health care provider or medical facility.
  • STEP 3: Research. If necessary, we will conduct in-depth research about your particular conditions, medical history, and treatments. We may have your records reviewed by leading doctors and other medical experts.
  • STEP 4: Follow-up conversations. Our lawyers and staff members will be in touch if they have any additional questions for you, or simply to let you know what’s happening. Also, you may check in with them at any time.
  • STEP 5: Case decision. We will let you know if we should move forward with litigation and discuss what’s involved next, such as filing a Notice of Claim, the discovery period, the pre-litigation panel hearing required for all medical malpractice cases, and, when warranted, the filing of a lawsuit. Or, we will let you know upfront if we don’t think you have a valid claim and why.

Why choose Berman & Simmons to handle your medical malpractice claim?

Results. We have won more medical malpractice cases than any other firm in Maine, including several of the largest medical malpractice jury verdicts.

Reputation. Founded more than 100 years ago, the firm is recognized nationally for its record of success in trials, a fearless approach to litigation, and for standing up for working people against powerful defendants.

Relationships. We care about our clients. We listen. We follow through on our promises. You’ll have a team behind you…


Click here for part 2, “Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: FAQs”