According to a joint study conducted by The University of Southern California, Harvard and the RAND Corporation, on average it took approximately 19 months for a group of malpractice cases that were being studied to reach a conclusion. If you're in the midst of a medical malpractice suit, you might be wondering why it's taking so long, and anxious about receiving a fair settlement. Before you walk away from the lawsuit out of frustration, here are just a few of the reasons why medical malpractice lawsuits take so long:
For a lawyer to win a malpractice case, they must first prove the following points have taken place:
The doctor/patient relationship took place
The physician was negligent
This negligence led to the patient's injury
Before your medical malpractice suit is filed, it's the job of your attorney to conduct a thorough investigation. During this investigation, an attorney will determine if the above-mentioned points are present and can be proven.
The investigative phase begins by interviewing the client to determine if they have a legitimate case.
After this determination is made, the lawyer then must go through the exhaustive, time consuming and often expensive task of investigating every aspect of the case.
For example, if a client suffered an injury during a routine procedure, the attorney and their investigative team would need to obtain and scour pages of medical records and interview all the medical personnel involved with the routine. The more individuals there are to interview, the more complicated the case becomes, which makes the investigative stage take that much longer.
Next, an independent medical expert would then be retained to pour over the medical records and interviews to determine if once and for all, the medical malpractice suit is sound.
If you're head is spinning at the thought of the investigation process, don't hesitate to ask your attorney to guide you thorough this confusing aspect of your case.
Going to Trial
Once the investigation is complete, your attorney will officially file your lawsuit – and what happens next will determine how long it will take before the case is over. In the majority of cases, your lawyer will reach a settlement with the hospital, clinic or doctor's insurance provider.
There are many advantages to reaching a settlement. For example, it can greatly shorten the process, and the stress involved with living through a medical malpractice case. Reaching a settlement is typically less expensive initially. However, you might not receive as much cash as you expect, or feel you deserve.
However, if the client and their lawyer aren't happy with the settlement, or if they believe their case is very strong, the lawsuit will enter the trial phase.
Before the trial even begins, your legal team will spend days, weeks or even months writing down a series of questions for witnesses, creating an opening statement, gathering evidence to present at trial and creating an effective closing statement.
During the trial phase of a medical malpractice lawsuit, both legal teams will present their case.
Depending on the complexity of the lawsuit, or if there are several medical providers and insurance carriers involved, it can take several weeks or even months before a verdict is reached.
If you're already struggling with an injury you believe was caused by your physician, the idea of dealing with a lengthy lawsuit might be too much to handle. However, before you walk away, contact an attorney to help you determine if you have a case that can be won. Your malpractice attorney, someone like Snyder & Wenner Attorneys, will help you through the entire process, from the investigation to the trial.