Medical malpractice can leave families in despair. Apart from the health issues they cause, malpractice cases often result in more need for treatment, and extended medical bills many people struggle to cover.
One way for these patients to power through is by filing a medical malpractice suits and demand compensation. However, anyone in this situation must know it can take months for their case to be settled.
Typically Lawsuit Length
The complexity of the case has a lot to say about how long a medical malpractice suit will take. Try to keep in mind that most often these cases are settled out of court.
If you are the party asking for compensation, then the length of the trial can be extremely burdensome. There’s the pressure of acquiring the fund to cover medical expenses. Medical malpractice attorneys often focus on getting the settlement as soon as possible because of this delicate aspect. But, since they also must focus on getting a fair amount of monetary compensation, the entire process can still be dragged out for longer than you would wish.
It can take six months or more for a medical malpractice suit to run its course, and the victims often don’t have that time to spare. Of course, it can be resolved quite rapidly by accepting a lower amount, though in this case, you risk losing hundreds of dollars in compensation.
For example, if a malpractice case goes to a jury trial, the entire process can take even years until the final verdict is given.
The Process in Short
To understand why these cases can take so long to settle or finalize, it’s worth looking at the general steps that go into a medical malpractice suit:
At this stage, your attorney will request information from the hospital where the malpractice took place, and build a case. The hospital’s legal representatives will do the same to try and counter your lawyer’s arguments.
Each side will look at your medical files, medical history, staff records, and any other relevant documentation for the case. However, these trials often require the testimony of expert witnesses to back up whatever the documentation says.
2. Expert Witness Testimony
Essentially, this is the stage where each side brings in an expert medical witness to consult on the case, and possibly give sworn testimony to the facts.
For instance, the victim will bring in an expert witness that will attest:
- Malpractice indeed took place (by proving the doctor made a mistake, for example);
- The negligence resulted in other severe injuries or medical problems.
Each party can bring their respective witness, and each will interpret the facts in their capacity. If there are two witnesses and their testimony contradict one another, more witnesses can be asked to testify.
Settle or Go to Trial?
Statistically, almost 90% of these case settle out of court, which is the preferred option for both parties. Trials can be a burden for both sides because they are long and often expensive. Hospitals will also avoid them because they can bring bad publicity.
But for the victim, is that the best solution?
Well, it depends. If victims need to get compensation fast, then it might be the only option, unless they manage to acquire some financial help through other means for the medical bills. However, settlements often get a lot less money for the victims than trials would. The average compensation for medical malpractice can be $425,000, while juries can award even $1 million.
However, you should also know that trials put you at risk of getting no compensation if you lose. If the other side makes a compelling case, it’s possible the jury will side with them.
In the event of a medical malpractice suit, getting adequately compensated depends on a skilled malpractice attorney. They can advise you throughout the case and increase your chances of getting what you deserve for your pains.