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Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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If you have been treated negligently by your healthcare provider, you should seek advice from a medical malpractice lawyer, who will be able to guide you through the legal process. In this article, we’ll go through what you can expect in a lawsuit and how long the process might take.

Ask a Medical Malpractice Lawyer: How Long Does It Take to Settle a Case?

There isn’t a simple answer to this question. A rough estimate is eighteen months, but a complex case may take more than three years to complete. There have even been cases that have taken fifteen years.


Why Are the Time Frames So Different?

As each case is unique, it’s impossible to predict what will happen. Your healthcare provider may choose to settle out of court, and if you accept, the case may be resolved reasonably quickly. On the other hand, your case might go to trial, and this can be a lengthy process.


Statute of Limitations

In most states, the statute of limitations applies to these types of cases, but the time limit for this differs between states. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible, but it’s advisable to keep to local legal experts for this. A top Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer will be best placed to provide you with the legal specifics in this state.


The Initial Stages

Reviewing Medical Evidence

The first stage of building a case for negligence is to assess the evidence. Your legal team will request access to your medical records and copies of all payments made to your healthcare provider. It can take time to gather this evidence, which is then reviewed to ensure there is a solid case for negligence.


Consulting Medical Experts

Once it has been established that you have a clear case, your legal team will consult an independent medical expert to support your claim. The expert will review your medical records and provide an unbiased opinion on the standard of care that you have received from your healthcare provider.


Filing the Lawsuit

When your legal team has compiled the evidence, they will file your claim. At this point, the legal proceedings officially begin.


The Offer of Proof

Each state has different processes. In some states, your legal team will submit an Order of Proof after the lawsuit has been filed. This document is provided as evidence that there is a legitimate case of negligence, and that the case has been reviewed by an independent expert. This document is also known as an Affidavit of Merit.


Discovery Process

Once the initial procedures have been completed, and both legal teams are satisfied, the case moves to the discovery process. During this time, both parties review the claims being made and the defenses being provided and request relevant documentation from one another.


Depositions from Witnesses

During the discovery process, the legal teams begin to gather depositions from any witnesses and from any relevant personnel. The claimant and the defendant will also provide depositions at the point.


Time Frame for Discovery

This process can be lengthy, often taking more than a year to complete. In many cases, the two parties require the judge’s guidance during this time, and so they return to the court with questions. It is common for the legal teams to ask for further clarifications in the depositions, and the judge decides whether additional questions can be asked.


Mediation and Settlement

Once the discovery period has been completed, you will know whether your case will go to trial, or whether a settlement offer will be forthcoming. Sometimes, there is a mediation process, during which both parties try to agree to settle. If this is suggested to you, you should follow the advice of your legal team, who will advise you on the best strategy for your situation.


Going to Trial

Once the trial begins, your legal team will focus on four points as proof of negligence by your healthcare provider:

  • That you were entitled to a duty of care
  • That this duty of care was breached
  • That the breach resulted in an injury
  • That the injury caused hardship in some way


Appealing the Verdict

Although the judge decides the verdict, this may not be the end of the case. The losing party may appeal, and if this is accepted, there will be a new trial. In this situation, the legal process will begin again, and you will be facing another lengthy round of legal proceedings.


Appealing Compensation

If you successfully win your case, the plaintiff may appeal to the court to reduce the amount of damages that have been awarded. You may also appeal if you are dissatisfied with the compensation awarded. Once again, this will add time to the legal proceedings.

If you have been the victim of medical negligence, you may be entitled to compensation, but it’s important to understand that a lawsuit can be lengthy. Every case is individual, and so if you feel that you have a claim, you should visit a legal expert, who will provide you with professional advice.


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