How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Medical Malpractice Suit?

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When you are injured, you place your trust in a doctor to provide you with proper treatment. However, some doctors may act negligently or fail to properly follow the standards in their profession. If this has happened to you, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury because of medical malpractice, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with a medical injury lawyer. Our personal injury attorneys can help you file a lawsuit and seek medical malpractice compensation.

what is a medical malpractice lawsuit?

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a lawsuit filed against a doctor for failing to properly execute their duty to their client. A doctor owes a duty to their client to follow generally accepted professional standards. In the medical profession, these are standards based upon scientific evidence published in medical literature and recognized by the medical community. 

Medical malpractice lawsuits are negligence lawsuits. To successfully prove medical malpractice, a plaintiff must prove the doctor owed the patient a duty, the doctor breached that duty, and that doctor’s breach caused damages to the patient. Medical malpractice claims commonly arise from these and other negligent actions:

  • A failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis
  • Unnecessary surgery or surgical error, such as operating on the wrong body part
  • Prescribing improper medication
  • Ignoring or misreading test results
  • Failing to order necessary tests

If your doctor has caused you harm because of one of these errors, contact a medical injury attorney who can evaluate your case and explain to you the medical malpractice lawsuit timeline.

what is the process of a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Filing the Complaint

If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, contact a medical malpractice lawyer who can evaluate your case. At the initial meeting with your medical malpractice attorney, they will ask you details about the injury. They may want to know what happened, why you went to a particular doctor, and other important information related to your injuries.

If you choose to proceed and file a medical malpractice lawsuit, your medical malpractice lawyer will use some of the information you provided them to draft the complaint. The complaint is the document that starts the case. In the complaint, your attorney will describe your allegations and claims against the doctor you are suing, as well as what remedy you want.

After the complaint is filed and served to the defendant doctor, the doctor will have to reply with an answer. The answer will likely respond to the allegations in the complaint and raise defenses to those claims.

Discovery

After the complaint and answer are filed, discovery will begin. Discovery is the process that allows both parties to collect information and build their case. Information a plaintiff might request includes:

  • Documents related to the rules or procedures the doctor follows
  • Insurance documents
  • Medical notes, charts, and other documents relating to the plaintiff’s treatment
  • Any photographs and videos related to the incident

The defendant doctor can also request information from the plaintiff. Information a defendant might request includes:

  • Plaintiff’s medical records from before and after the incident
  • Tax or other information related to plaintiff’s income
  • Receipts or other evidence of any out-of-pocket expenses related to the incident
  • Plaintiff’s social media accounts or other online presence

Both sides may also want to conduct depositions; at a deposition, attorneys will ask a witness a series of questions, similar to those that might be asked during trial. Since you are the one bringing the lawsuit, your lawyer may want to depose the doctor to hear their side of the story; the doctor’s attorney may also want to depose you. Depositions can be conducted in person orally, or they can be written; your medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine what information is necessary to build your case, and how to best get that information.

Expert Witnesses

During discovery, both parties will hire neutral medical experts to evaluate the case and help determine whether malpractice occurred. These experts may be generalists or specialists, depending on the details of the case. The neutral medical experts will investigate what happened, looking to documents and any other evidence provided to them, to determine whether or not the doctor acted in accordance with their duties.

If both neutral experts find the doctor did not commit malpractice, the case will likely be dismissed. However, if one or both of the experts finds medical malpractice occurred, the case will go forward.

Settlement or Trial

As discovery begins to come to a close and both parties have the documents they requested, the parties will consider whether it is best to settle or go to trial. Most medical malpractice cases settle; this means the defendant will pay the plaintiff a sum of money and the case will not be heard by a jury. If the case does not settle, the parties will begin preparing for trial; this includes drafting opening and closing statements and preparing witnesses to testify.

Going to trial can be expensive and time consuming. However, there may be benefits to taking your case to trial, such as the potential for a greater monetary reward. You should speak with your medical malpractice lawyer who can help you evaluate your options and make the best choice for your case.

What is the medical malpractice lawsuit timeline?

A medical malpractice lawsuit timeline will depend on whether you decide to settle or take the case to trial; if you choose to settle, your case will be resolved much quicker than if you choose to go to trial. Trials can last anywhere from one day to several weeks or months; trials also require extensive preparation and are scheduled seven or eight months in advance. Suffice it to say, going to trial can be expensive, time consuming, and risky.

The New England Journal of Medicine found the average resolution of a medical malpractice case is five years. However, the medical malpractice lawsuit timeline varies from case to case. Factors that may affect the length of your medical malpractice case include:

  • Complex medical issues
  • Involvement of multiple healthcare providers
  • Multiple witnesses

If your case involves multiple healthcare providers, you may have to contact each provider and seek relevant information from them. You may also be able to sue all of the healthcare providers involved in your treatment, bringing multiple parties into the action; this means discovery will be longer, as more information is needed from more people. You should speak with an injury attorney who can help you determine what the medical malpractice lawsuit timeline for your case might be.

Medical malpractice FAQs

How Long Do I Have to File My Case?

Statutes of limitation determine how long you have after an incident to file a lawsuit. How long you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit will depend on the state you reside in. In most states, the statute of limitations is two years; this means that you have up to two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Other states allow between one and five years to file a medical malpractice suit. You should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after the incident so that you can understand when the statute of limitations begins to run for your specific case and whether you can file a lawsuit.

What Kind of Recovery Can I Seek?

In a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can seek both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those that can be calculated; they include lost past and future earnings, medical or ambulance bills, and other calculable expenses. In a medical malpractice action, the plaintiff is entitled to seek full compensation for economic losses; in cases where a patient is severely injured as a result of medical malpractice, economic costs can be as high as $8 million.

Non-economic damages are those which cannot be calculated; these include monetary awards for pain, suffering, emotional distress, or the loss of enjoyment of life. States place caps on the amount of non-economic damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff; in medical malpractices cases, a plaintiff may be awarded no more than $250,000 in non-economic damages. Speak with your medical malpractice attorney to determine the damages that you may be able to seek in your case.

zinda law group can help you seek compensation

At Zinda Law Group, we understand that medical malpractice lawsuits can be complicated and expensive. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can provide answers and medical malpractice FAQs, evaluate your case, and help you seek the compensation you deserve.

Zinda Law Group offers a “No Win, No Fee Guarantee," which means you do not have to pay anything unless we receive a favorable verdict, judgment, or settlement in your case. So, if you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of medical malpractice, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with a medical injury attorney near you today. 

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.