Medical Malpractices Lawsuits: A Guide Through the 10-Step Process

Making a successful claim for medical malpractice requires a multi-faceted approach where you cover every aspect of the circumstances and legal complexities that apply to the injury or loss that you have suffered.

One thing is for certain, you can’t have any realistic expectations of making a successful claim for compensation without the professional guidance and diligence of a medical malpractice attorney.

To launch and complete a lawsuit that achieves a positive outcome you need to have someone on your side who has the knowledge and experience to know which questions to ask.

They will also have the ability to explore all the facts and circumstances relating to your case in forensic detail.

There is a specific process that is often followed in order to arrive at a point where you can make a legal claim that covers all of the relevant facts and uses the legal framework to your best advantage in order to maximize the chances of being awarded the right level of compensation.

Here is a look at the process that will often be followed when launching a personal injury claim.


Exploring all of the details in an initial consultation

The first step in the process requires an initial consultation with your chosen personal injury lawyer.

They will explore all of the known facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Their job at this point is to ask as many relevant questions as possible and request all of the information and documents you have to support your claim.

This initial consultation is also your chance to ask all of the questions that you may have on your mind. Your lawyer will use this initial discussion to assess the prospects and viability of your claim and outline to you what they think the prospects of success will be.

They will also explore the legal aspects of your medical malpractice claim and formulate a strategy that they consider to be the best approach based on what the law allows you to claim for.


The next step involves gathering information and supporting evidence

Once you have completed the initial consultation and agreed to appoint a lawyer to act for you in your medical malpractice claim you will be asked to sign a retainer and contingency fee agreement.

This document creates a legal framework between you and your lawyer. Once you have this in place and are ready to move forward your lawyer will start gathering documents and evidence to support your claim.

This will involve asking you for details and supporting documents. It will also usually require official requests for access to official documents and medical files.

You should be aware that even when you have authorized your lawyer to access this information on your behalf it can take many months to get this data. Your claim won’t be able to proceed to court until everything is in place.

Be prepared for this potential delay.


Your lawyer will carry out an in-house investigation while waiting for documents

Even though there is a potential delay in getting access to your medical records, your lawyer will be busy preparing your claim by carrying out an in-house investigation.

This means they will look for evidence of a medical or procedural violation and seek out any potential defendants or witnesses relevant to your case.


Expert witnesses are often vital to your claim

Another important part of the claims process is when your lawyer seeks out and selects expert witnesses to help support your claim.

These expert witnesses are highly relevant and can often prove critical to the success of your claim.

They will be someone with recognized expertise who will be able to give a detailed and trusted medical opinion that demonstrates or highlights the inadequacies or errors that have led to your claim.

Being able to prove medical malpractice often involves using the opinion of a trusted expert who will provide weight to your argument and pinpoint the specific issues where a medical provider has been negligent.

Your lawyer will gather all of this evidence and professional opinions in preparation for the court case.


The pretrial phase

Preparation is everything. That is why your lawyer will be so diligent and thorough in ensuring that all of the relevant documents, evidence, and witness statements have been gathered together correctly.

Once all of these things are ready it is time to enter the pretrial phase. As the description implies, this is the point in the process where the lawsuit prepares for moving forward.

This is a point in proceedings where any legal complexities or issues are smoothed out so that the case can go to court without any potential legal technicalities stopping the process.

You should be aware that the pre-trial phase can often last anywhere between 12-18 months. During this time, work is being done to compile evidence and check that every aspect of the claim is procedurally and factually correct.


A settlement offer might be made

Once you have reached this point in the process it is possible that you might receive an offer to settle out of court.

It is often the case that a defendant might seek to settle the matter and offer a figure that they ask you to accept in return for not pursuing your claim any further.

Your lawyer will be able to advise you on what they consider to be a fair and reasonable offer. If it is believed that you are entitled to receive a higher level of compensation than is being offered the settlement will be rejected and the case can go to trial.


What to expect when the case goes to trial

The next step of the process is for your claim to go to trial. Many of us will not be familiar with the legal process so it helps if you have an understanding of what this involves.

The majority of trials are conducted in front of a jury. However, it is possible that your case may be heard by a judge alone, without a jury being present. A typical medical malpractice trial can last up to four weeks before a conclusion is reached.

Your lawyer will advise you on the procedures and will have a reasonable idea of the time frame involved to reach a settlement.


What to expect from jury deliberations

You need to be prepared for the possibility that the jury might not be able to reach a decision about your case.

Both sides will put their arguments to the jury and they are then told to make their deliberations and decide the outcome. If they reach a positive decision the verdict will be read out in open court. The amount of compensation being awarded will also be revealed at this point.

However, if the jury is unable to reach a decision there will be a mistrial declared.

Your lawyer will be able to advise you further if this scenario occurs. It is not the end of the matter if a mistrial is declared. It is simply a case that a satisfactory conclusion could not be reached and further action is required to reach a settlement.


Appealing the decision

Even when the jury manages to reach a decision and an award for compensation is made that may not be the end of the matter.

There is a post-trials motions and appeals process that may be followed if the decision is disputed by either party. This could be because your lawyer might think that the financial award is too high or too low. Or the other party might launch an appeal and request that the judge consider granting a new trial.

It can be frustrating to be denied a satisfactory conclusion at this point having probably waited some time to reach this point. It is worth remembering that the losing party always has the right to appeal the jury’s decision. This could benefit you if the jury denies your claim, so it can work both ways.

Your lawyer might try to persuade the judge to reconsider and make an adjustment to the terms of their verdict. Alternatively, your lawyer might seek to persuade the judge to agree to grant a new trial.


Reaching a legal conclusion

If an agreement is reached in court and your case is settled you will be asked to sign a document that is part of the finalization process. This document confirms your acceptance of the outcome and financial award. It then prevents the defendant from future liability and prevents you from returning to make a further claim for the same medical issue.

It is important to get guidance from your lawyer on this point. If your condition worsens, you will not be able to make a further claim for additional compensation. That means your compensation award needs to recognize the potential for a future worsening of your condition or financial circumstances as a result of medical malpractice.

Once you have followed all of these specific steps you will have reached a natural conclusion to your medical malpractice claim.

Your lawyer will be with you every step of the way. They will provide professional guidance and support to give you the best possible chance of achieving a successful outcome for your claim.