The Legal Process
At Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers, we understand that the process of consulting with legal professionals can feel confusing and difficult to navigate. To make it easier for you to understand the course of the legal process, we’ve compiled a short list of FAQs about how we handle birth injury cases.
We’ve provided some short descriptions of the various aspects of our legal practice, along with what you can expect from Reiter & Walsh, P.C. as your birth injury law firm. Please click through these to get a better understanding of what the legal process looks like at Reiter & Walsh, P.C.
Please feel free to contact our team if you have any further questions; we are available 24/7 via our contact form, email, live chat and phone line.
I Think My Child May Have Had a Birth Injury, But I Don’t Want to Seem Litigious or Confrontational.
One important thing to remember is that medical professionals are exactly that – professionals. They are held to high standards of care because they are experts in their field. In the process of providing medical care, these professionals can and do make mistakes that jeopardize the health and safety of their patients. The law holds these professionals accountable for their errors.
Remember that you have an inviolable Constitutional right to access our court systems under the 7th Amendment (the right to a trial by jury). Lawyers are here to help you navigate through the maze of legal procedures as you exercise your right to be treated fairly.
Most of My Time Is Spent Caring for My Child. I Can’t Spend Huge Amounts of Time on Court Proceedings.
We understand that caring for your child is your first priority. We want to maximize the outcomes for your child and handle your case in such a way that you are not pulled away from the care your child needs and deserves. You will be contacted and asked to assist us in only a few circumstances:
- During your initial contact with us and shortly afterward, we will be speaking to you (generally over the phone or over email) to determine whether or not you have a case, and, if you do have a case, informing you what kind of paperwork you will need to provide or sign.
- We will provide you with some paperwork to sign, including authorization forms to allow us to view and compile your medical records.
- We will call you to clarify information or request missing information.
- You may be asked to give a deposition after your case is filed. On your end, this will usually take no more than one day.
- You may be asked to answer written questions during litigation. This should also be a quick and easy process.
- During the case, there will be settlement conferences and mediations you need to attend. On your end, these will only take a few hours but they are extremely important in attempting to resolve your case before trial.
- In the rare circumstance that a birth trauma case does go to court (which occurs in only a portion of cases, approximately 2-3%), you may need to attend court. Sometimes cases settle before trial. When you decide whether or not you want to settle a case, you must consider numerous factors. You will have to decide whether to accept a defendant’s offer or proceed to trial where a jury may award you the same amount, more, less or nothing. Your attorney will advise you during this process, but it is ultimately your decision to accept or reject any proposed settlement.
Hear two of our clients discuss how Reiter & Walsh, P.C. works around the busy schedules of their clients:
I See That Reiter & Walsh Is Based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I Don’t Live In or Near Bloomfield Hills (or Even in the State of Michigan). Is That a Problem?
While our firm is headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, we operate locally and nationally. We primarily operate in the states of Michigan, Ohio, and Washington D.C., but we handle cases in all parts of the U.S.
Distance is not a limiting factor in securing quality legal representation. When necessary, we will commute to you when we are handling your case. We will be very clear and open in our communications and keep you informed of all of your case details, regardless of where you live.
I’ve Never Dealt with a Birth Injury Law Firm Before. What Does the Legal Process Look Like?
First and foremost, remember that every case is different, so it is very difficult to state what your case will look like without knowing the details. The laws surrounding birth injury change (often very significantly) between states. What holds true for Michigan may not hold true in a state like New York or Texas and vice versa.
That said, there are a few general steps that we go through in every case.
1. Initial Contact
The first step to handling a birth injury case is reaching out to a birth injury attorney to see if he or she will handle your case. For our firm, this can take the form of a short phone call, email or Live Chat conversation, where we gather some very basic information about your case. After this initial screening, we gather some more details about what happened to you and your child. The more information you provide, the better we are able to understand whether or not we can accept your case.
2. Case Evaluations
Once you’ve contacted us, we will look at the information you provided and see whether the situation you describe falls within our practice areas. There are some situations where a particular case falls outside of our practice areas, and, in that case, we refer you to a trusted attorney or organization who will be better able to assist you. If we decide to take your case on, we then proceed with the intake process. Case Evaluations with our attorneys are free.
If we do decide to take your case, there are no upfront fees of any type. Please see more information about our payment policy below.
This is the part of the process where our clients are most heavily involved, and where the bulk of their time with us is spent. During intake, we gather as much information as possible about your case. This includes gathering paperwork – especially medical records. If you have copies of your medical records already available, this will speed everything up significantly.
You will also receive a New Client Packet. This packet details what kind of information we’re looking for and includes a copy of an attorney fee agreement and authorization forms to release medical records to our office.
During intake, we’ll be going through the legal process as it pertains to your case. Because laws in each state are different, we’ll explain how state-specific laws pertain to you and your birth injury case.
4. Investigating a Case
Once all the initial paperwork is completed and records are requested, we will communicate with you regularly to make sure you are up-to-date on your case status. We ask that you be available for phone calls as necessary.
There are many steps involved in investigating a case. After we gather information and medical records, we talk to many medical experts whose knowledge is best suited to discussing your child’s specific injuries and disabilities. These medical experts review the medical records and provide their professional opinions on the details of the case. These medical professionals help us understand what kind of medical malpractice occurred, and where treatment went wrong. Once we have expert support, we can then file your birth injury case.
5. Pursuing a Case
There are many steps involved in pursuing a birth trauma case. After a case is filed, there may be some waiting time while the paperwork is processed. Once the paperwork is processed, you will participate in a deposition (a meeting where you answer questions about your case under oath). This is part of the information-gathering process. Depositions typically take one day to complete.
In some cases, after your case is filed, your child may have to undergo a medical examination by medical professionals. This will be organized at your convenience.
At this stage, there will also be settlement conferences and mediations you need to attend. These take only a few hours but are crucial for attempting to resolve your case before trial.
- How long does a case take?
Case times vary vastly in the medical malpractice field. We can’t provide a one-size-fits-all answer. That said, as a general rule of thumb, it can take up to six months to determine whether there is malpractice that can be pursued in Court.
For the state of Michigan: After we determine that there is medical malpractice that can be pursued in court, we file a first notice that signals our intent to pursue a case. After we file this initial notice, it typically takes another six months before the case may be filed in Court. After a case is filed, many cases take 1.5-2 years from start to finish. However, some birth injury cases can take much longer depending on a number of complex factors.
6. Settling a Case
Each birth injury case is very different. We work with you to ensure that you obtain the best recovery to help you care for your child, involving you in every step of the process. We consult life care planning experts and economists to determine future care needs for each client individually.
Our attorneys will advise you as to your best interests and your child’s future needs based on the opinions of experts. Whether you decide to accept an offer from a defendant to settle your birth trauma case is ultimately your decision.
7. Going to Court
On very, very rare instances, you may need to go to court for your case. If your case goes to trial, your presence will be required. Feel free to contact our attorneys if you have questions about this process.
8. After a Case is Closed
After a case is closed, it’s important to have as much information as you can about how to make sure your child has a secure and stable future. We can provide information that will make it easier for you to figure out how to obtain services and support for your child and family. We are not affiliated with any of these groups, but provide information on them as a free resource to help you and your child after the completion of your birth injury case.
- If we are unsuccessful in securing a recovery for your case: you do not pay us anything.
- If we are successful in securing a recovery for your case: After you obtain your verdict or settlement, there are some portions that, by law, are distributed to various parties in all birth injury lawsuits. Each case varies, so please feel free to reach out to us about how this works in your state. These include:
- Attorney’s fees: In the Intake Stage, we provided you with a document called a contingency fee agreement which outlines how we are paid. The courts will approve the payment of our attorney’s fees, and we will receive a percentage of the recovery from your verdict or settlement. This percentage is set by state law and custom.
- Costs incurred: There are various costs incurred. These include, but are not limited to, the costs of obtaining medical records and expert opinions.
- Part of the settlement will also go to insurance liens. This is mandated by law. This is because your child’s disabilities most likely required medical care. The insurance companies that provided this care will seek to recoup some of the costs of care caused by the medical malpractice.
My Child Had a Birth Injury When I Was in a Military Hospital/Federally-Funded Clinic (‘Free Clinic’). I’ve Heard That I Can’t Get Help Because the Center Was Federally Funded. Is This True?
No – just because you had treatment at a military or federally-funded clinic doesn’t mean you can’t seek compensation for your child’s care. While federal organizations operate under a different set of laws when it comes to medical malpractice, an attorney well-versed in the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) can help you navigate this complicated system. The key difference when it comes to medical malpractice in a military setting (like with the Army, VA, or Air Force) or in federally-funded community health clinics is that you must file a claim with the organization first – you can’t go to court immediately. The organization has to respond to your claim within six months, and, depending on how they respond, there may be a settlement or you may choose to pursue your case further.
Because of the complexities of military medical malpractice, it is important to choose a law firm with experience in litigating cases under the FTCA. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers’ attorneys have helped numerous families injured in federally-run medical facilities (be they military hospitals or free clinics); we can help you secure your child’s future to ensure they get the therapy and medical they need to have a fulfilled and happy life.
I Don’t Have the Resources to Pay Reiter & Walsh, P.C. Out-of-Pocket. How Do I Pay for My Legal Services?
At our firm, we understand that the process of caring for children with special needs can be costly and time-consuming. We aim to increase access to the court system for individuals who may otherwise be unable to afford it. Because of this, we don’t charge any fees upfront at all. Instead, we are compensated using a contingency fee agreement. This means that you do not pay us until we win your case. Once your case is won, we receive a portion of the settlement to pay for our services and the costs of pursuing the case. You only pay us if we obtain a recovery for your case.
Attorney Emily Thomas Discusses Why Many Parents Pursue Birth Injury Cases
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