When a person has been harmed as the result of a medical error that could have been prevented, the consequences for the victim and his family can be devastating. Many times, it is not possible to work any longer and there are bills that pile up quickly. If the medical mistake caused severe harm, the person may be facing a lifetime of therapy, assistive care, and adaptive technologies in order to achieve some quality of life. In order to receive the compensation necessary for these basic necessities, a legal claim is often required. However, this does not mean that the only option is trial. There are other dispute resolution possibilities that could be utilized in order to get the right outcome.
Dispute resolution, also known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), encompasses several different types of out-of-court methods for reaching a favorable outcome for our clients. There are several reasons for a person to turn to dispute resolution, including the fact that it is faster than a traditional legal action, it is a private means of reaching a determination, and it may be less stressful than a court case. Although dispute resolution processes can be very effective based on the specific facts of the case, they should not be undertaken without the assistance of a skilled medical malpractice attorney.
The reasons to consider dispute resolution include the following:
- The person who was injured may receive the compensation and resources that he needs much sooner than a traditional jury award;
- These dispute resolution processes are intended to facilitate a more cooperative experience, reducing the adversarial nature of the claim;
- Dispute resolution often takes place with far less expense than a trial, leading to more compensation going to the person who was injured as opposed to going towards satisfying costs and expenses;
- The outcome of the case is confidential – many hospitals, medical facilities, and doctors prefer dispute resolution for this reason; and
- The resolution of the dispute resolution is final, so there is not uncertainty from an appeal.
One of the ways to resolve a matter is through settlement negotiations. Although this is accomplished through an informal process, it is an important option for many people who have been severely injured as the result of a medical mistake. Stern Law, PLLC will only pursue settlement discussions if our client is willing to consider offers. We will advise our clients about when this might be in their best interests.
Cases that might be right for settlement negotiations include:
- The likelihood of a successful outcome if the case were to go to trial, which includes an evaluation of how difficult it will be to prove the medical mistake and that this was the direct and proximate cause of the harm that the plaintiff suffered;
- The length of time that it would take for a case to proceed through to verdict at trial and the needs of the injured party and his or her family;
- The capacity of the defendant(s) to satisfy a jury award; and
- The skill of the legal team representing the defendant’s interests.
When a person is deciding whether or not settlement is a viable option, it is important to carefully consider goals and needs, what comprises he is willing to make, how important privacy is to him, and how urgent it is to get compensation for bills and expenses. When there is a binding settlement that has been approved by the court, the injured person relinquishes his right to pursue any further legal action based on the harm that he suffered because of the medical mistake.
Mediation involves a neutral third party, known as the mediator, whose role is to facilitate a resolution of the dispute between two or more parties. The mediator establishes the parameters of the proceedings, explains the rules, and then learns about the goals and priorities of the plaintiff and defendant(s). Often, parties who attempted to negotiate a settlement may turn to mediation when there is a breakdown in the progression of the discussions. Depending on the circumstances, the mediator may work with the parties independently and then communicate their positions to the other side or he may facilitate a joint session where the issues are discussed openly.
Mediators have special skills and training in identifying problems and barriers and assisting the parties in overcoming them. Mediation often is entered into voluntarily, but parties can be ordered into mediation by a court, depending on the jurisdiction.
Arbitration is another out-of-court dispute resolution proceeding. This procedure follows a more formal structure. The arbitrator or panel of arbitrators, designated as neutral parties, function in the role of a judge, to a certain extent. During arbitration, there will be a presentation and review of evidence in order to establish liability.
The arbitration proceeds in much the same manner as a trial, with parties making opening statements and then introducing evidence during the presentation of the case. The arbitrator typically is deemed to have the skill and experience to make a determination of the issues of the matter based on the evidence. This usually is a binding proceeding, so the parties must be willing to accept the determination of the arbitrator. Arbitration proceeds on an expedited timetable, as compared to traditional litigation in a courtroom, where it can take years to proceed to a trial in the case. This means that a person who is willing to arbitrate his claim may receive compensation months or years sooner than a jury award. This can make a significant difference for some families.
Although alternative dispute resolution proceedings can be effective for some people, there are other times when a matter simply will not be resolved without litigating all the issues at trial. In these circumstances, Stern Law, PLLC is prepared to aggressively advocate on behalf of our clients.
Stern Law, PLLC Makes the Difference
There are many circumstances where a trusted doctor or medical professional made a mistake that led to severe and lasting harm. This error can have lasting consequences that alter the future of a person and his or her family. Stern Law, PLLC is committed to advocating passionately to get the outcome that our clients need to pay bills, receive ongoing therapy, obtain assistive and adaptive technologies, and compensate for pain and suffering. We believe that our clients have the right to get answers and information whenever they need them, which includes 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.