Being a lawyer is tough. Being a medical malpractice lawyer can be daunting. You need to know the rules of civil procedure. You need to know the law–not just laws specific to medical malpractice, but laws that govern torts, liens, insurance, evidence, privilege, and potentially even bankruptcy. Being able to advocate on paper is a must and you need to know your way around a courtroom. You need to be able to handle clients. You need to be able to handle experts. Understanding strategy is a must. Beyond that, to be an effective medical malpractice lawyer, you must understand applicable medicine.
Medical Malpractice Tools
Whether you are new to medical malpractice law or have been practicing for decades, you’ve likely searched for tips or tools designed to make you a better lawyer. There is an abundance of websites that offer practice tips, suggest tech gadgets, promote tech services, and try to be helpful. Here are the 5 tools that I think every medical malpractice lawyer should consider using. They are not essential tools, but ones I think are helpful. Please note, this is my opinion and the services below have not asked me to suggest them and I have no financial arrangements with them.
TrialPad might be one of the most powerful apps that a medical malpractice lawyer can use on an iPad. The app provides an easy to learn the way of presenting information to a judge, jury, clients, or anyone for that matter. You can easily import exhibits and other documents from Dropbox, Box, Citrix ShareFile, and other systems. You can also transfer files from a computer by using iTunes and connecting your iPad to the computer with a USB cable. For us old Windows users, you can import a .zip file (under 1 GB), which lets you create folders and subfolders on your computer, and then maintain those folders when you import into TrialPad.
You can control what the audience sees, zoom in and out to focus on specific information, and immediately blackout the audience screen if an objection is made. TrialPad includes annotation tools, such as highlighting, a callout tool, and notes, which you can save. You can also create Key Docs, which allow you to create annotations ahead of time. Additionally, TrialPad is great with trial exhibits, allowing you to keep track of exhibits that were admitted into evidence. These features are great for presenting medical records, literature, and other technical documents. Feel free to read articles and reviews on the internet to better understand how TrialPad can help you.
Radiology Assistant is an educational site of the Radiological Society of the Netherlands. The site offers imaging and related information covering virtually every system in the body. Its navigation is broken down by area of the body. I use this site for education. I want to understand what the images show. In some cases, it proves invaluable during depositions. It may also help me find normal images to better understand the client’s problem. Most medical malpractice lawyers rely heavily on their experts for this sort of thing. And that is fine. But there will be instances when you don’t have the time to contact your expert, or you want to save the expense. The information on this site may also enable you to speak more intelligently with your expert.
When it comes to trial evidence, you should have experts interpreting medical images for you. The expert should print out key images and label them with identifiers. The expert should provide the foundation for the comparison with normal anatomy. However, for all other purposes, this is a great site.
The Patient Safety Network (PSNet) is a product of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The Agency hopes to build bridges between research and practice. PSNet provides the latest news and essential resources on patient safety. It offers weekly updates of patient safety literature, news, tools, and meetings). It also hosts all AHRQ Morbidity and Mortality Rounds, providing expert analysis of reported medical errors, Cases and Commentaries, as well as Perspectives on Safety. There are also interactive learning modules on patient safety.
This site is a great way to stay up-to-date on issues impacting your practice. Frankly, whether you represent health care providers or victims of medical negligence, one goal of medical malpractice cases should be to make health care safer and improve quality.
Visual exhibits are very effective at conveying complex medical information. I am a big fan of medical illustrations and animations, but nothing beats being able to hand a juror or witness a 3D model. How cool is it to give the jury something to see, handle, manipulate, and better understand the anatomy, injury, and your perspective? Embodi3D allows you to create anatomically accurate and patient-specific models. Difficult to explain findings on a CT or MRI are quickly conveyed to a layperson through a 3D printed model.
5. Outside experts.
Knowing where to go for information helps set great lawyers apart from good ones. There is nothing wrong with asking others for help. In fact, having outside resources available to you can have a powerful impact on your practice. Therefore, network, connect with other medical malpractice lawyers outside your firm and join/participate in industry listservs. Whether it is on a local or national level, connecting with other professionals medical malpractice lawyers gives you access to a larger knowledge base.
Knowledge is power. The 5 tools discussed above should provide you with a ton of knowledge and the ability to present your knowledge in an effective manner. As always, feel free to contact me if you think you have a medical malpractice matter that could use my expertise.