The victims of medical malpractice will often experience serious financial issues that are directly related to their damages. These financial difficulties can put a family that is already troubled into even greater financial difficulties. Unfortunately medical malpractice can take six months to a year or possibly even longer before a case can be settled. This may be too long for a family struggling to pay the bills.
How complex and strong a case is determines how long a case may take to settle or go through a trial. Most lawsuits end up settling out of court. Both sides are still required to file motions and go through discovery through the court process. A medical malpractice attorney needs to find the best balance between obtaining compensation for the family as quickly as possible and ensuring that they get a fair amount.
Once a complaint has been filed and all parties notified of the lawsuits then both sides can then begin the process of discovery. During discovery, both parties will start to request information, evidence and related documentation from the other party in order to gather facts and build their cases. Also during discovery, the defense and plaintiffs will be required to hire an expert medical witness so they can consult on the case and advise them on the merits of their complaint.
Both sides will call upon a neutral third party expert medical witness to investigate the details of their case, establish the standard of care, and determine if and how the medical negligence occurred. Expert medical witnesses must also determine if and how the negligence led to additional undue injury or damages. If both expert medical witnesses find that the standard of care was not breached, and negligence had not taken place, then it is likely the lawsuit will be dismissed. However, if the experts disagree, then it is possible that more witnesses may need to be called upon. If it is agreed by both medical experts that negligence likely occurred, then they will proceed with the lawsuit.
If during discovery and the expert medical opinion it is established that the case has merit then the defense will likely begin to try to settle the case. The defense attorneys who represent the medical malpractice insurance provider will attempt to minimize the amount of money their client will have to pay out for the lawsuit. They will also attempt to avoid having to go to trial because of the cost. The plaintiff’s lawyer will need to consider the case when whether a settlement amount is appropriate. If no reasonable offer is made by the defense then the case should go to trial.
Neither side wants to go to court, which is why most cases settle out of court. A trial is expensive and time-consuming. In general, only the cases where a settlement amount cannot be reached go to trial as a last option.