A typical medical malpractice claim usually involves the following steps:
- Investigation of the claim. It is not always clear what caused the injury and how the malpractice occurred. A determination of which party or parties to sue can take time.
- Filing the complaint. Once the proper parties are determined, and the specific injuries assessed, your medical malpractice attorney composes and files a complaint against the appropriate parties. The defendants must then reply to the complaint within a set period of time.
- Discovery. During discovery, both sides can question each other to flesh out the evidence for their cases. The injured party, as well as witnesses, can be called to provide statements under oath called depositions. Depositions are recorded and transcripts can be used later at trial in a malpractice lawsuit.
- Settlement. It is in the interest of both sides to attempt a settlement rather than having a full-blown trial. The attorney for the plaintiff offers evidence that shows the value of the case and the parties then negotiate to see if they can come to terms. If the parties agree on a reasonable settlement amount, they enter into a settlement agreement and avoid trial.
- Trial. If in spite of their best efforts, the parties to the lawsuit are unable to reach a settlement agreement, the medical malpractice lawsuit proceeds to a trial by jury.
Remember, you only have a limited amount of time to bring a malpractice claim before the statute of limitations runs out.
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.