A number of factors can affect how long you have to wait before you see compensation for your injuries:
- Do you want to file a claim with the insurance company, or file a lawsuit against the doctor?
- Are your injuries “obvious” and limited? Or are you facing a protracted, partial recovery that will require lifelong care?
- How blatant was the malpractice?
If you already know the extent of your injuries and it seems likely that you will recover completely, it may make the most sense to file a claim with the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance company rather than go through all of the extra work, publicity and potential delay of a lawsuit. If you file a claim against the insurer, you should receive compensation within about two years of filing your claim.
On the other hand, if your injuries require ongoing treatment and you do not know yet whether you will recover to your pre-medical malpractice state, you should probably file a lawsuit. In this case, how long it takes to get the compensation you deserve will depend on whether the case settles before trial. Usually, medical malpractice cases that settle before trial end within two or three years of the time you file suit.
If your case is more complex — if the doctor did not commit patently obvious malpractice, for example — it may take longer. The vast majority of medical malpractice cases settle before trial, and those that do go to trial tend to conclude within three or four years from the time you file suit.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.