Here’s What Happens in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If you're the victim of medical malpractice, you may feel ill and overwhelmed by the complications and other health problems. You may know that you should pursue a claim against the doctor, nurse, or other health care professional who committed medical malpractice, but feel unsure as to what to do.
Taking the first step of retaining an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help take the fear and mystery of the process.
What to Expect When You File Your Medical Malpractice Claim
One of the first things to understand is that medical malpractice claims tend to take longer to resolve, as they often require filing a lawsuit and litigation to do so. This is because of the high stakes to the doctor, hospital, and others who could be liable. A doctor or other health care provider could risk losing a professional license if he admits fault, and insurance premiums may skyrocket if a claim is paid.
When you retain an attorney, certain steps occur in your case as it moves toward a settlement or decision in a jury trial. Here is what you can expect to happen:
- Investigate claim. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of your potential claim, including interviewing you; obtaining and reviewing your medical records and medical bills; and locating and interviewing other witnesses.
- Hire medical expert. In Idaho, you cannot file a lawsuit for medical malpractice until you've hired a medical expert. Your attorney will need to hire this expert during or after his investigation of your claim.
- Send initial demand. While many medical malpractice cases don't settle during the pre-litigation stage, some do. Your attorney may begin the process by sending a demand letter and package to the insurance company for the negligent party, and could engage in some settlement negotiations.
- File lawsuit. If your attorney is unable to settle your claim, he'll file a lawsuit in court and have the doctor, hospital, or other negligent parties served with a copy of the summons and complaint. They'll then file a formal answer to your complaint that raises any defenses they plan to use to claim they weren't negligent.
- Discovery. A lengthy period of discovery occurs after the answers are filed. This is an opportunity to send out written requests for answers and documents, and take depositions from you, any negligent parties, and expert witnesses. This is all done in an effort to find helpful evidence for your case and to learn more about the defenses raised to your claim of malpractice.
- Mediation and negotiations. Settlement negotiations will continue throughout litigation of your case when your attorney feels that it would be productive. In addition, many municipalities require parties to participate in court-ordered mediation before a trial in an effort to settle these cases. Your case could be resolved through negotiations or mediation.
- Trial. If your case isn't settled, it will be decided at a trial—usually a jury trial. This will be your opportunity to tell your side of the story and have your attorney present expert witness and other witness testimony and evidence.
Are you the victim of medical malpractice? Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with me. I’ll be happy to answer your questions and explain what you can expect to happen given your specific situation.