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What Do Medical Lawyers Do?

What do medical lawyers do

Medical lawyers, as the name suggests, specialize in the field of medicine and public health. But what does a medical lawyer do? What are their day-to-day tasks? In this article, we talk about medical lawyers and their function, what skills they need, and what a person needs to do to become one of them. Read on! 

What is a Medical Lawyer?

Medical lawyers are lawyers focused on the medical industry and individual/public health. They’re also called medical malpractice lawyers since they handle malpractice lawsuits over a doctor or hospital negligence. 

Apart from malpractice lawsuits, medical lawyers also handle other fields, such as: 

  • Showing health personnel how to comply with healthcare regulations
  • Helping businesses comply with health privacy laws 
  • Resolving health insurance issues
  • Checking credentials of hospital job applicants
  • Participating in public health issues such as drug regulation, sanitary water provision, and fighting infectious diseases 

Medical lawyers also do typical lawyer tasks, including: 

  • Investigating the parameters of a malpractice case
  • Drafting motions for courtroom proceedings 
  • Creating strategies for hearings and trials 
  • Collaborating with professionals to develop case arguments
  • Recording depositions

Skills Needed from Medical Malpractice Lawyer 

A medical lawyer needs strong technical skills in legal concepts and soft skills that can help them in different aspects of their job. 

For example, a medical lawyer needs the technical skills to determine whether or not a case qualifies as medical malpractice. They often assess instances for individuals who might not be aware of the gravity of their situations.

Meanwhile, soft skills allow medical lawyers to keep track of all the details that are relevant to their cases. Other skills that medical lawyers need include: 

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Analytical skills 
  • Critical thinking
  • Public speaking skills
  • Writing skills
  • Research skills

Here’s are deeper look into what a medical lawyer does on nearly a daily basis where the above-mentioned skills are relevant.

Collecting Evidence 

Medical lawyers are in charge of collecting evidence about their cases. When clients present cases to them, they’ll probe the details of the case. If the case happened in a public setting, the lawyer will interview witnesses and check surveillance footage of the event.

If the lawyer acquires video evidence of the injury, you increase your chances of winning the case. The lawyer will also take the testimony of the defendant to see if their story aligns with the client’s version of events or see where the stories differ. 

Working with the Client

Medical lawyers will spend a lot of their time interviewing clients and collecting evidence with them. They’ll also ensure that the client is within their rights as they pursue the case. They’ll gather medical evidence and ask for expert opinions from doctors about the medical malpractice injury, solidifying their case. 

Representing the Client in Court 

The medical lawyer does most of the talking when representing clients in court. Their education and training allow them to pick their words correctly and get points across in favor of the client. They’ll argue the case and provide evidence to prove the client deserves for their injuries. 

The lawyer aims to poke holes in the defendant’s version of events. Medical lawyers also prepare their clients for what to say when the judge wants to speak with them. 

Work Environment 

Medical lawyers often work in an office setting, and they spend much of their time attending meetings, conducting research, and processing paperwork. 

On the other hand, many medical lawyers also travel to visit their clients at home or in medical facilities. They may also work regularly in courtrooms and attend meetings with judges. Of course, they represent clients in courtrooms during hearings and trials.

Like other types of lawyers, medical lawyers often work more than the standard 40-hour work week since they frequently have to work overtime to prepare for cases. 

Qualifications of a Medical Lawyer 

Medical malpractice lawyers have the same educational requirements as other types of lawyers. They must attend college and go to law school, typically earning a four-year bachelor’s degree in medical subjects — such as anatomy or biology — since they can use the knowledge to identify instances of medical malpractice.

After earning a degree, the lawyer-to-be needs to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and apply to a law school. They typically have to study for three years to complete law school. 

They also need board certification and a license to practice law. Most medical lawyers earn their license by passing their state’s bar association exam. One of the most popular sources of certification is the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA). This group certifies lawyers in the medical or legal malpractice field. 

You can build experience once you enter the field. As you build experience, you can qualify for high-level cases and attract more clients over time. ABPLA also offers access to client networks. Many new medical lawyers often take on general civil litigation cases and tackle as many malpractice cases as they can. 

In Other Countries

A medical lawyer’s job typically remains the same in whichever country he or she is in. The difference lies in things such as the cap on damages they can claim on behalf of their clients, responsibility for legal fees, and whether judges or juries decide on the case. 

In Canada and Europe, medical malpractice cases are decided by judges. This results in smaller payouts and faster verdicts. 

In terms of damages, Canada has a maximum compensation cap of about $350,000 — no matter how severe the injury might be. In the UK, judges can award a maximum of $400,000 compensation for pain and suffering damages. Meanwhile, the US has much higher damage caps. Moreover, Canada, Australia, and Europe make the losing side bear the other side’s legal fees. 

In New Zealand, medical malpractice claims go to the medical board review. The board then determines whether the medical error was avoidable and if compensation is needed. Injured patients may receive government-funded compensation as they relinquish the right to sue for damages — except in rare cases of severe misconduct. 

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