How Long Do Medical Malpractice Cases Take in Washington, D.C?

How Long Do Medical Malpractice Cases Take in Washington, D.C?If you suffered harm because of an act of medical negligence, the first question you likely have is, “how long do medical malpractice cases take?” This is a natural question as you may need help paying your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost income. However, you must keep in mind that every person’s medical malpractice case is different, meaning that your timeline could be a lot different than someone else’s.

The timeframe of your medical malpractice case depends on how complicated or challenging your case becomes, and how willing (or unwilling) the defense is to negotiate in good faith. For example, if the insurance company refuses to agree on a fair settlement, a lawyer will likely take your case to  court, which could extend the length of time for your claim.

Although you could have a medical malpractice case that is similar to another person’s case, you should never expect your case to have the same timeline as theirs. Your case consists of its own unique factors and circumstances, which means that it could be much longer or much shorter than other similar medical malpractice cases.

Most of the time, the negligent parties will want to settle outside of court, which can reduce the length of your case. However, if they do not cooperate, there is a good chance that the case will go in front of a judge or jury. It is your personal choice to decide whether you would like to proceed to trial, but if you are unsure, you can consult with an attorney who can help you make this decision.

What factors or circumstances may cause my medical malpractice case to take longer than usual?

There are certain factors or circumstances that may cause your medical malpractice case to take longer.:

  • The number of people/entities named in your lawsuit: Multiple liable parties can mean multiple insurance companies all trying to deflect blame.
  • The seriousness of your injuries: In order to avoid accepting an offer that is less than what you need and deserve, you need to wait until you’ve reached your maximum medical improvement. This can take time.
  • The amount of discovery: Complex cases of medical negligence produce an exorbitant amount of paperwork. All of this paperwork needs to be reviewed and analyzed, and this type of careful review takes time. You don’t want your lawyer to rush through this part of the case building because important information may not come to light if he or she rushes.
  • Bad faith actions by the insurance company(ies): Many insurers will try to delay claims as much as possible. If they are acting in bad faith, this can add time to your case.
  • The court’s schedule: Even if everything moves smoothly, you still need to schedule time in court. Between your lawyer, the defendant’s lawyer(s), and the judge, finding a good time for everyone can be a challenge.
  • The need for witnesses: The more witnesses you have – expert or otherwise – the longer it can take to bring your case to court.

Medical malpractice cases involve a lot of in-depth research, analysis, and investigation. As a result, it is not uncommon for medical malpractice cases to take time.

The medical malpractice legal process

There are several different steps in the legal process that your medical malpractice case will go through, including:

  • Consulting and hiring an attorney: Since medical malpractice cases are one of the most complex and challenging cases, it is never recommended that a person represent themselves. Instead, consulting and hiring an attorney will highly benefit you and your case. An attorney with the proper skills and experience will help protect your rights and demand the compensation you need and deserve to restore your life again.
  • Reviewing your medical reports and records: After you have hired a lawyer, they will begin looking over your medical reports and records to see what exactly happened to you. These reports and records will show any harm you endured and how the doctor or hospital failed to follow the standard level of care when treating you.
  • Filing a lawsuit: Next, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Your lawsuit will show you as the plaintiff and the doctor, hospital, or medical office that put you in harm’s way as the defendant. Once you have filed a lawsuit, the defendant will be served, which gives them a certain amount of time to respond.
  • The discovery phase: The discovery phase is when the parties involved request evidence from one another to prepare to go against each other. This may be photographs, video footage, witness statements, medical reports, and more. The attorneys usually meet and exchange this information, which allows both sides to see what type of arguments and evidence may be used against their clients.
  • Using an expert witness to support your side of the story: An expert witness is almost always essential to a medical malpractice case. This may be a doctor, surgeon, nurse, anesthesiologist, or any other type of medical professional who has medical knowledge or experience. The goal of the expert witness is to explain what errors occurred, where they occurred, and how they happened. Many people do not understand medical terminology. Therefore, it is the expert witness’ responsibility to break down the facts and go over how the standard level of care was not provided to the patient.
  • Settlement negotiations: The settlement negotiations is the part of the legal process where both parties are given the chance to come to an agreement on the compensation that should be provided for damages. This process will likely involve back and forth negotiations between both parties until a fair and accurate amount is agreed on.
  • Trial: If a fair settlement cannot be agreed on, you have the option to proceed to a trial. In court, a judge and jury will listen to the facts of your case, look over the evidence, and decide what type of compensation is owed.
  • Receiving compensation if successful: If your case is successful, you will receive compensation for your damages. This compensation may not be able to heal you from the injuries, neglect, and suffering you have experienced, but it may be able to help you get the closure you need and get back on your feet again. The amount of compensation that you may receive varies from case to case, but it is usually based on how severe your injuries are, how much your medical expenses are, how much income you have lost, and more.

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling our office.