When a person has been harmed as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, it often is difficult to know how to proceed. One of the most daunting things for many people is how the litigation process actually works. Most people know that there are trials that result in awards of money that are intended to compensate for the pain and suffering of the victim, but also to provide funds to replace lost wages, pay for emergency and long-term medical care, and any other expenses that arose as a result of the harm. What may be less clear are the many avenues available to get to the desired outcome.
Beginning the Process
The litigation process begins with the gathering of evidence. The first thing that must be done is for the patient or the patient’s legal guardian to gather all medical records. This provides the road map for how the case will develop. These records identify the people with information about the medical care that a person received and the mistakes that were made. In a medical malpractice case, it is necessary to demonstrate that the medical practitioner breached his or her legal duty to provide a specific level of care. Although this typically is done through a legal expert, the individuals who had direct knowledge of the actions that were take will play an important role in the case. In a medical malpractice case, the attorneys representing the medical professional who committed malpractice often will attempt to bury the victim’s attorney with paper, so it is critical to have a legal team who can identify the crucial information effectively.
Analyzing the Case
Once the initial documents have been gathered, it is necessary to perform a detailed analysis of the facts of the case in order to determine how to proceed. This includes determining the cause of the harm suffered by the victim, the liability of the wrongdoers, any apportionment of blame, whether the statute of limitations permits the filing of the case, and how to manage the case. There are times when pursuing a legal action does not make sense based on the facts of the case.
Commencing the Legal Case
After a determination has been made to file a legal action, it is important to act quickly to prepare an initial complaint. This initial filing is going to set the stage for the case, so it requires careful crafting. It also is crucial to bring the action in the right legal forum. If a case is filed in a court that does not have jurisdiction over the action, then the case may be dismissed. When this happens after the statute of limitations has run, then the person who suffered the harm loses the right to pursue a legal remedy, so it is imperative that the action is filed correctly the first time.
Discovery and the Exchange of Information
After the case has been commenced through a legal filing, the exchange of information begins. There are document requests to gather all relevant paperwork and records. In addition, there are depositions of individuals who have relevant information about the medical care that a person received and how it may have contributed to the harm that was suffered. This part of the litigation process may last for a significant length of time. The person who was injured due to a medical professional’s negligence also will have to submit to a medical examination in most cases.
Potential for Settlement
As the legal case proceeds, that does not mean that there cannot be discussions aimed at settling the matter before it goes to court. In most cases, there are negotiations throughout the court proceedings. Despite the fact that many people think about trial being the ultimate goal, the truth is that the reason for bringing a legal action is to get fair compensation for all the harm that was done because of the doctor’s negligence. This includes compensation for lost wages, money to pay past and future medical treatment and rehabilitation expenses, the resources to acquire necessary adaptive or assistant technologies and hire any necessary care providers, satisfy any related expenses, and provide some recognition of the pain and suffering that resulted from the doctor or other medical professional’s negligence. If a settlement offer is made that satisfies all the elements of the needs of the victim, then it is a good outcome, avoiding protracted litigation.
The Possibility of Alternative Dispute Resolution
While pursuing traditional litigation, it also may be possible to use alternative dispute resolution such as non-binding arbitration or mediation to reach a resolution that is in the best interest of the client. A skilled medical malpractice attorney will explore all possible options.
Trial, Verdict, and Appeal
There are many other things to consider when a case does go to trial, including retaining the right medical expert, establishing the medical professional’s liability through witnesses and documentary evidence, and demonstrating the extent of the harm and the need for adequate compensation to provide the best quality of life possible for the victim, which almost never is that standard of living that would have been enjoyed but for the negligence. After the verdict has been reached, either side may appeal, depending on the facts and legal justifications.
Stern Law, PLLC Represents the Rights of Those Injured Due to Medical Malpractice
It often is difficult to know where to turn for help when you or a love one has been injured or killed through the negligence of a medical professional. At the Stern Law, PLLC we are committed to providing you with all the information that you will need to make the right decision for your and your family. We also prioritize accessibility, having someone available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.