Medical malpractice lawsuits are an important avenue of recourse for those who experience negative health outcomes as the result of provider negligence or incompetence. However, the medical malpractice lawsuit process can be confusing, especially if you don’t know what to expect. That’s why we’ve compiled this sample timeline for a medical malpractice suit. While every case is unique, this is what your claim might look like:
Hiring an Attorney
The first step in any medical malpractice case is the victim (you) schedules a free initial consultation with an attorney. If that law firm thinks that you have a case and that a provider is liable for your injuries, then they likely will agree to take your case on a contingency-fee basis.
Your Attorney Will Begin an Investigation
Your injury attorney will conduct an in-depth interview and ask you questions about your medical condition and treatment plan. He or she will also request copies of all your medical records and bills, so the firm can begin to build a case against the provider who allegedly committed negligence. Be patient, as this process can take time.
Your Attorney Will Hire a Medical Expert
Proving medical malpractice requires expert testimony from a medical professional with similar training and experience. If your case should go to trial, you will need this professional to attest to the fact that your provider deviated from the standard of care and he or she would have treated you differently, given the same circumstances. He or she will also attest that it was the defendant’s action or inaction that led to your injuries.
You Have the Option to Negotiate
Sometimes, the medical malpractice lawsuit process ends here, as a provider’s insurance company may want to settle the matter out of court. This is where the negotiation process begins, with your attorney and the insurance company arguing over “fair compensation” for your injuries, pain, and suffering.
Filing the Lawsuit
If you and the insurance company cannot come to an agreement regarding your case, the next step is to formally file a lawsuit with the appropriate court. Sometimes, this restarts the negotiations process and leads to a settlement. In other cases, you may have to wait for one to three years for your case to go to trial.
The Trial Begins
If your case results in a trial, your attorney will vigorously defend your right to compensation in front of a jury, using expert testimony and other forms of evidence. The trial process can be lengthy, but it may be necessary, especially if you’re in the middle of a lawsuit against a large organization. Cases involving wrongful death or gross negligence often involve higher claim amounts, so closing the case can take longer. After the trial ends, the jury will make a ruling on your case and issue a verdict. If they find your provider negligent, they will award you damages, and the case is over. Your medical malpractice lawsuit could last anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the unique circumstances of your case.