Most people don’t know what occurs during a medical malpractice case. If you are considering filing one, you may wonder what happens during a typical case. The J Garcia Law Firm tells you everything you can expect, including the length of time it can take medical malpractice lawyers to close a case.
First Things First: Find the Right Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Before the ball can get rolling with any medical malpractice case, you must find the right attorney to represent you. Generally, medical malpractice matters are extremely complex and are not the type of legal action you should enter into by yourself. Meet with several different lawyers to see what they are all about and to get a feel for their personalities. The best way to choose the right one is to ensure that they have the right level of experience and success in their field and that you feel comfortable with them. Once you have selected your medical malpractice attorney, you can start on your case.
Investigation and Review of Medical Records
After you have your attorney, he or she will interview you about your medical condition and treatment. It’s important that your lawyer always know everything there is to know about your condition and any subsequent treatment you’ve undergone.
From there, your lawyer will gather up all of your medical records and bills regarding the malpractice matter. He or she will also obtain records for any additional treatment you’ve received after sustaining your condition. Generally, it can take several months for this part of a medical malpractice case to conclude.
The attorney will thoroughly review the medical records to ensure whether there is actually a valid claim for medical malpractice. Frequently, they are able to determine if this is the case and can tell their client early on if they truly have a claim.
Find Medical Expert
If your attorney determines that your claim is valid, he or she will find and hire an expert medical witness for the case. Generally, this person is a doctor who practices the same specialty as the defendant. The medical expert reviews your medical records and asserts their opinion that the defendant acted negligently regarding your care.
Consider Making Demand and Negotiating
Frequently, personal injury cases are settled before a lawsuit is even filed. That occurs with medical malpractice as well, but not often. Most often, the doctor’s insurance company doesn’t discuss a settlement until after a suit is filed and they can then proceed with an investigation.
Lawsuit is Filed
At this point, the medical malpractice lawyer will file a lawsuit, generally known as a complaint or writ. Filing gets the clock running on when the case can get to trial. Depending on the state, it can take anywhere from a year and a half to three years after a suit is filed for the case to reach the trial stage.
From there, an Offer of Proof or Certificate of Merit is filed. This is to ensure that there is a legitimate claim for medical malpractice.
After a judge approves the Offer of Proof or Certificate of Merit, litigation starts and each party conducts the discovery phase. This is when the parties investigate the opposition’s claims and defenses. Interrogatories are sent for documentation and depositions are done of all witnesses of each party.
This process can take a year or longer and may require the parties to go back to the court for help from the judge. If either or both parties are not satisfied with responses to the interrogatories, the judge will hear the arguments and make a decision.
Mediation and Negotiation
After discovery, the attorneys then discuss a settlement. Occasionally, they can settle the case that way, but sometimes, a mediation is necessary. Mediation is the process where both lawyers and their clients appear before a mediator to settle the case.
If the mediation is unsuccessful, the case then goes to trial. A medical malpractice trial can last a week or longer. However, it’s worth noting that just because a trial is scheduled for a suit doesn’t necessarily mean the trial will start on that date. It depends largely on the judge’s schedule.
If you are considering filing a medical malpractice claim, get in touch with medical malpractice lawyers at the JGarcia Law Firm immediately. JGarcia Law Firm will connect you with the right attorney to get your case started. You can contact us at 407-649-6448 or visit our website! 411attorney.com