How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take?

How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take?

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How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take?

If you or someone you know has recently been harmed as a result of a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence, it is vital that you proceed cautiously and carefully with your next steps. 

One of the most common questions presented by victims or family members of victims is, "How long does a medical malpractice lawsuit take?" There is no doubt that there are immediate impacts to real or believed medical malpractice. For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose you in a timely manner, you could've missed out on important opportunities to get early treatments. Likewise, if you were subject to a surgical error, you could be dealing with the consequences immediately, such as having to stay in a nursing home because of a serious infection. 

One leading reason to ask about how long a medical malpractice lawsuit takes is that there are statutes of limitations in place that require you to file a lawsuit in a timely manner and because you may be curious about what you can expect in terms of your recovery and potential legal consequences. There is no one-size-fits-all length to a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are many different factors that can influence the outcome of a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

In many cases, hospitals and other physicians have extensive legal teams in place and potentially even malpractice insurance which complicates the ability to resolve these cases quickly. There will often be a thorough investigation by any clinic or hospital involved in the lawsuit or employing the medical professional in question. You should be prepared for a potentially long road ahead and extensive research and evidence-gathering phases in this project.

First Step in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If you believe that medical malpractice has occurred, you might have already shared these concerns with the hospital or medical professional that you were accusing. However, this is an entirely different matter from opening a medical malpractice lawsuit. You will need to visit with a medical malpractice attorney in your area to discuss the specifics of your case. You will likely need to sign releases or provide copies of medical records. That law firm will likely do an initial pass through the medical records to determine whether or not an issue has occurred. If they believe that further insight is needed, they will then send these records on to an independent medical examiner who will, as a neutral party, review all of this material and come back with a recommendation. In many cases, the independent medical examiner will be someone who has experience in that area of health care. 

For example, if you argue that a heart surgery went wrong because of a surgeon's malpractice or negligence issues, it is likely that someone who evaluates this as an independent medical examiner will have a background in heart surgery as well. Based on the outcome of this thorough review, the next step would be to file a lawsuit if all parties involved believe that malpractice has occurred. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to even get through this phase of a medical malpractice lawsuit, particularly if multiple independent medical examinations are required. During this time, it is strongly recommended that you do not communicate with anyone from the hospital except as required to do so. 

Do not sign any releases before presenting the paperwork directly to your medical malpractice attorney. Particularly if the loved one in question died as a result of this alleged medical malpractice, you may also need to inform creditors associated with probate that things are on hold until that issue can be addressed in full. Any of these complexities can add a great deal of time to the evaluation in conclusion of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The Next Step: Filing a Case

Once a case has been filed, early stages of the case need to be managed, such as depositions and interrogatories. During this early part of the case, this is when you will be gathering any key evidence and your lawyer will be interviewing witnesses. At any point in this process, a settlement conversation can occur. 

Settlement conversations are typically prompted when the health care provider or legal representatives serving that person believe that there is too much uncertainty or are concerned about the length of time required to go to trial. Bear in mind that you are not obligated to take any settlement offer presented to you by the other side, and it is up to you to evaluate these things carefully with your lawyer. If you believe that you have not been presented with a fair settlement offer, you can counter that offer or decline it altogether. Your lawyer will then continue proceeding as planned with your case in court. At any time, future settlement conversations can occur as well.

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  • What Kinds of Factors Can Make My Case Take Longer?

    When asking your lawyer upfront how long does a medical malpractice lawsuit case takes, they will probably tell you the typical legal answer that it depends. However, there are a number of factors that can greatly complicate your medical malpractice lawsuit, including:

    •       Difficulty getting medical records
    •       Multiple allegations against the same party
    •       Multiple medical professionals are being accused of this situation
    •       The death of the person in question
    •       Additional surgeries required by the person in question
    •       Newly researched medical conditions and treatments for those conditions where a great deal of information is unknown

    One of the most important things you can do for your case is to retain an experienced and dedicated medical malpractice lawyer. Your medical malpractice lawyer will be there to guide you through each step of the case and to answer your questions as those questions come up. Given that there are so many stakes involved in handling a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is important to prepare yourself for a possibly long situation. In the best-case scenario, your lawyer will be able to negotiate a fair settlement that allows you and your family to move on with this part of your life. However, in many cases, medical malpractice claims might need to go to trial, and in this situation, you can expect at least a few years involved in this kind of lawsuit.

  • What Are the Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice? 

    There are many different examples of medical malpractice cases. The most important aspect to consider when you are thinking about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is if there is evidence that the doctor or other medical professionals deviated from the standard of care that would have been provided by a similar person. 

    For example, if another surgeon would have proceeded in the same way that your surgeon did, it is going to be difficult to illustrate negligence. However, if you can show that the surgeon did not approach the procedure in the right way or failed to capture early signs of distress at the beginning of the surgery, you may be able to illustrate the negligence that occurred. You must also be able to show that a doctor and patient relationship existed in order to illustrate this negligence.

    Some of the most common examples of medical malpractice cases include failing to diagnose a condition, misdiagnosing a condition, prescription errors, surgical errors, and more. It is also possible that in some complex medical malpractice cases that more than one type of allegation could be made. 

  • What Evidence Do I Need in a Medical Malpractice Case? 

    Medical records, testimony from healthcare providers, and other documents or photos can all be helpful in illustrating the case. Sit down with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after the incident happens to get a full list of evidence gathered. It is possible that additional medical records going back in time might be required, so make a list of these so that you can complete proper medical record release forms.

  • When Do I Need a Lawyer? 

    It is recommended that you communicate with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after the incident happens. This is important whether the person affected survived the incident or passed away. Surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the person who is now deceased. In all of these circumstances, you need to take quick action to ensure that you have appropriate access to all medical records and evidence early on. Your lawyer will begin the process by conducting an investigation of the case and getting early opinions.

    Our office has a track record of working with people who are dealing with complex medical malpractice cases. If you’re worried about protecting your rights and need guidance on how to proceed, reach out to our experienced team today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. During your initial consultation, you’ll get a better sense of how long a medical malpractice case might take depending on the specifics of your case and can then take your first steps in moving forward. 

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