Looking To File A Medical Malpractice Claim? Learn About The Stages Your Case Will Go Through
If you were injured due to a doctor's negligence, you may be able to file a medical malpractice personal injury claim. When you meet with a personal injury attorney, they will likely tell you that medical malpractice claims can take years to resolve. This may leave you wondering what the steps a medical malpractice claim takes from the beginning until the end. Here are four phases medical malpractice claims go through.
The first step in a medical malpractice claim is the pre-suit phase. This begins with the attorney meeting with you, allowing you to lay all of the facts out and determine whether they feel you have a compensable claim. If a personal injury attorney feels that you have compensable claim based on what you have told them, and you meet the requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim, they will begin to obtain evidence. Typically, this involves obtaining your medical records and speaking to other medical professionals to find out exactly what it is that the doctor did wrong that caused your injuries.
Filing the Lawsuit
The next step in the medical malpractice claims process is filing the lawsuit. After your attorney has reviewed the evidence in the case, they will make a determination as to whether you should proceed with a lawsuit. If they believe you can win the case with the evidence they have, they will proceed to file a lawsuit. Filing this suit informs the defendant and the courts that you have been injured due to medical malpractice and wish to seek compensation for the injuries. Unfortunately, the process for filing the lawsuit varies from state to state. Some states require you to meet pre-suit requirements. This may involve obtaining medical expert affidavits, review board reviews or file notices of intent to file suit. Other states allow you to simply file with the courts and proceed with the case. An experienced personal injury attorney will know the laws in your state and will help you file the lawsuit correctly, helping to ensure the statute of limitations does not expire before you are able to do so.
The discovery phase of a medical malpractice claim can be long. During this phase, both the plaintiffs' and defendants' attorneys will exchange all of the information that they have in regards to the case. This can include medical reports, witness statements and expert reviews. The attorneys then have the opportunity to review all of the information submitted by the other party. Many attorneys will then speak to experts in an effort to refute or rebuff any information submitted by either party that could be damaging to their position.
Additionally, depositions are typically taken during the discovery phase. A deposition allows both parties to ask questions of you, the injured party, and any doctors or medical staff who may be pertinent to the case. Many of the questions that are asked during a deposition are similar to the questions that will be asked during a trial. This gives both sides the opportunity to hear the whole story from both sides and attempt to build their case.
If your claim has not settled, the last stage in a medical malpractice lawsuit is the trial. Depending on the state you reside in, this may be a trial in front of a judge or a judge and jury. During a trial, both parties present all of the information to support their position that you were either injured or not injured due to medical malpractice. A judge or jury then find the doctor guilty or not guilty of medical malpractice and determines an award. The amount you receive varies based on many factors including your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any wages you lost due to your inability to work because of the injuries you sustained.
There are many factors that affect how long it will take a medical malpractice claim to reach a resolution. However, one study found that, on average, it took five years from the date a health care-related injury occurred to the date the medical malpractice claim closed. This is because medical malpractice claims go through different phases to reach a resolution. Learning about each of these phases will help you to understand why it takes so long or what is happening in your case as you wait for your personal injury attorney to bring your case to closure.