What Can I Expect to Happen During a Medical Malpractice Case?
If you believe you were the victim of medical malpractice or negligence, you might be concerned about pursuing justice because of the complex nature of navigating the legal system. However, this guide will put you at ease and help you learn from a medical malpractice lawyer what happens during the pursuit of a typical medical malpractice case.
Finding a Lawyer
The first step in pursuing a medical malpractice case is finding the best lawyer to represent you. It’s important to be working with a lawyer whom you trust and who has a good reputation for working with medical malpractice cases.
The next step in pursuing a medical malpractice case is sitting down for an interview with your chosen lawyer. This interview will ask you very thorough questions about both your particular medical condition and the treatment you have received for it.
The lawyer will then request access to all your medical records and bills. This may seem like an invasion of privacy, but it is all in the name of building a solid case and doing their best to make sure you receive any compensation you deserve.
In addition to general medical records, the lawyer will compile a collection of records of every form of medical treatment you have had for your particular condition.
This may take a little longer than you might think (it can take months) but they will use these records to determine whether you have a valid medical malpractice case which they can pursue from a legal standpoint.
Hiring medical experts
The next step in pursuance of a medical malpractice case is the hiring of medical experts who can act as an expert witness in your case. This is something your lawyer will normally take on themselves.
A medical expert for your case will most likely practice the same specialty of medicine as the defendant in your case (the doctor whom you are accusing of malpractice). This expert must review the medical records and confirm that the defendant was, in fact, negligent, and also confirm that the injuries and damages caused to you were a result of that negligence.
Consideration of negotiation
In many personal injury cases, settlements are made before the suit is even filed. This is not as common in cases of medical malpractice specifically, but it can happen.
Filing of the suit
Generally called a Writ or a Complaint, your lawyer will file the lawsuit. Depending on your situation, it can take between a year and a half to three years for the suit to go to trial.
Filing of the Offer of Proof
Your lawyer, the lawyer of the plaintiff, will file an Offer of Proof, which elaborates on the legitimacy of your medical malpractice case. This includes initial conversations with medical experts and often also contains written documents signed by these experts accusing the defendant of negligence.
This is the phase of the case where the lawyers of both the plaintiff and the defendant will examine the evidence brought by the other side. This process can last over a year and can also require the help of the judge at various points.
This next step is where both the plaintiff and the defendant and their lawyers meet to negotiate a settlement with a professional mediator.
In many cases, mediation can provide a satisfactory solution for both parties, but if not, the suit goes to trial. This trial can last a week or more and can often be delayed due to specific state regulations, but hopefully, it will produce a positive result if your lawyer has built a strong case.