The common conception of medical malpractice is that of worst-case scenario. Not all medical malpractice lawsuits are a result of the death of a loved one, however. There are many different ways doctors or medical professionals may have a medical malpractice charge or complaint brought against them. More than 90% of these will end outside of a courtroom, but there are still tedious proceedings that must be undertaken in order to satisfy the complaint. Read on to see the steps involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical malpractice litigation starts when a plaintiff officially files a complaint in court against a doctor or medical professional. These complaints must include testimony by an expert who has concluded that the accused did not meet the “standard of care” requirement for professional care. Once this has happened, the accused will usually have thirty days to answer the charge. Extensions are sometimes available past the thirty days. At this point, the defendant will have the opportunity to assemble his own expert opinions about the case.
Discovery is the part of the process where the two sides will compare their cases with each other. Each side can request relevant material from the other and depositions of key people from both sides will be taken. This is the part that takes the longest, sometimes lasting over a year to complete. However, it is the most crucial part, as the information uncovered in discovery is what often leads to out of court settlements.
At this point, a neutral third party will preside over a series of hearings between the plaintiff and the defendant (and all lawyers for the sides). They will attempt to come to a mutually beneficial agreement, one that both parties are satisfied with. However, the mediator cannot mandate a settlement. He can only act as the go-between for the parties. If no agreement can be met, the case will proceed to trial.
It is better for both parties, monetarily speaking, that the case be resolved in mediation. It is substantially more expensive to take a medical malpractice suit to trial. Nonetheless, it does happen from time to time. It is so expensive because lawyers must prepare exhibitions, examine witnesses, gather medical records and more. These tasks cost money that neither side really wants to spend.
Still, a settlement is possible at any point during the trial proceedings. Once all the evidence has been submitted, the experts’ testimonies have been given and the attorneys have fully presented their cases, a jury will render their verdict. Even after the trial is over, the appeal process could take another year or more, should either side decide to appeal the case to a higher court.
Medical malpractice is a very serious matter, and the Tatum Law Firm treats it as such. We represent clients all throughout North Carolina and South Carolina in many fields, including personal injury, workers compensation and medical malpractice. If you believe you have a medical malpractice case, contact us today. We offer free case evaluations and 24/7 online service. Do not fight this battle alone. Contact Tatum Law Firm, your medical malpractice lawyer in North Carolina and South Carolina.