Medical malpractice ranks high among the leading causes of death in the country. If you or a loved one is a victim, you can sue the responsible healthcare provider or hospital. A successful medical malpractice lawsuit enables the victims to recover compensation for financial and non-monetary losses.
Most medical malpractice lawsuits follow the same process from legal consultation to settlement or trial. You should list the individual healthcare provider alongside their insurer as defendants. Since the lawsuits involve insurance companies and their agents, you could use the services of reputable law firms specializing in medical malpractice cases, such as DiamondInjuryLaw.com, for instance.
1. Consulting A Lawyer
The process begins with seeking legal counsel to uncover what legal options are on the table for you. Visit any law firm you choose and request to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer. You don’t have to pay a dime because legal consultations are free in most law firms.
The attorney usually requests as much information as you can provide regarding the case. Analyzing the information allows them to determine how you got injured and whether the healthcare provider has a case to answer.
Strong evidence is the basis of every successful medical malpractice lawsuit, and your attorney will dive into the investigation to uncover incriminating evidence against the defendants. The attorney will find and review relevant medical records, including the doctors, hospitals, and visiting nurses’ reports. This enables the attorney to figure out how the doctor deviated from the standard duty of care, which resulted in your injuries.
The attorney will also consult medical experts in the same specialty and level as the defendant. Other medical experts include professors or heads of surgery in same-level institutions. They will review the case and produce a Certificate of Merit or swear an affidavit to uphold the credibility of your lawsuit.
3. Filing The Lawsuit
Your attorney then files a formal written complaint in a state trial court with jurisdiction over medical malpractice cases. Filing the complaint marks the beginning of the court process and should be done within the statute of limitations of the respective state.
Copies of the complaint are served to the defendants. They have several weeks to file their response, usually called Grounds of Defense. The court will then set the case’s mention dates.
4. Discovery Phase
In the discovery phase, both parties seek as much information about each other as they can. Usually, they send each other questions known as interrogatories which the other team is supposed to answer honestly. Witnesses for both teams are also questioned under oath in a deposition.
Your attorney will request pertinent documents like medical records, medical bills, and other forms of evidence in the hands of the defendants. The defendants will also do the same. The law requires both parties to make open the evidence they have against each other and the documents they will use in the remaining part of the lawsuit.
5. Negotiation And Settlement
This is where the parties try to strike an amicable settlement agreeable to both parties to avoid going to trial, which is expensive and unpredictable. In fact, most medical malpractice lawsuits end here.
The parties will sit, and the attorneys will negotiate a favorable settlement for you and the defendant. In case of a dispute, the parties may involve a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, to help the parties arrive at a fair decision. Mediation may also be used. There’s also something called a structured settlement, wherein the parties arrive at a cash agreement instead of taking the matter to court. A lawyer can help with this kind of settlement as well.
Agreement means the case ends here, and the plaintiff is compensated, while disagreement pushes the matter to trial.
Trials are rare, with only 7% of the cases making it this far. Your attorney presents the evidence of medical malpractice that caused your injury before a jury. The witnesses, including the medical experts, testify either in person or in the form of an affidavit. The other party also presents its defense.
The jury reviews the matter and makes a judgment for or against the plaintiff. They also decide on the number of damages to award the victims. However, the process is lengthy and expensive, and a favorable ruling is not always guaranteed.
The six-stage medical malpractice lawsuit begins when you consult a lawyer and ends at trial. It is uphill all the way. No one deserves to walk this path alone. You need a medical malpractice attorney by your side every step of the way.