How Long Does A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take?
On average, most medical malpractice cases take 2-3 years to settle. However, if a medical malpractice case does not settle and goes to trial, the lawsuit can take up to 4 years. In cases where compensation exceeds $2 million, the timeline is often 5-15 years.
No two medical malpractice lawsuits are the same, and many factors combine to determine how long your medical malpractice suit can take. While some cases may resolve within the first year or two, many take upwards of 3-5 years before they are concluded. Some medical malpractice cases will settle out of court or during the discovery process, and some cases will go all the way through trial to a jury verdict. This variance is largely due to the complexity of issues that each medical malpractice case presents, as well as the extent of the damages/harm suffered by you or your loved one as a result of the medical negligence.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Did the malpractice result in wrongful death?
- Have you or your loved one continued treating the condition, and have you or your loved one essentially recovered from the harm that was done to you by the medical negligence?
- Will you or your loved one require ongoing or permanent medical care in an attempt to recover from the medical negligence that took place?
Age, ability to continue to function in a normal capacity, ability to complete daily activities of living with or without assistance, lost income, and numerous other additional factors come into play in the timeline of a medical malpractice claim.
Healthcare professionals often take the Hippocratic Oath or a similar vow upon graduation, promising to do no harm to their patients. As such, healthcare professionals are held to a high standard of care. The standard of care is generally defined as such care that a reasonable, prudent and careful healthcare provider would have used under similar circumstances and that the failure to use such reasonable care directly caused or contributed to cause the damages (harms) being claimed.
In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, the medical records must be reviewed by an expert medical witness in order to determine the following:
- Whether or not the standard of care was breached
- By whom the standard of care was breached
- Was the breach by one single provider, or were there multiple healthcare professionals involved in the negligent care/treatment?
Timeline For Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Medical malpractice litigation is extremely complex. Initial evaluation of medical malpractice claims includes an in-depth review and analysis of the medical records, imaging and other documentation in order to determine the following:
- Exactly when and where the breach in the standard of care occurred
- The amount of time it took the provider(s) to identify the act(s) of negligence
- The amount of time that passed before the provider(s) began taking steps to remedy the situation in order to limit the harm and prevent any future harm/death.
As such, the initial process of a medical malpractice lawsuit takes time, and the attorney-client relationship is critical throughout this process. Medical records contain sensitive and confidential information. It can also take a few months to collect the necessary medical records as certain time frames are provided by law for production of the records.
Some providers and/or their medical malpractice insurance provider may delay in providing the records because they are aware of the wrongdoing and the care is being reviewed by a medical review panel. Other providers may have provided continuous care for a long period of time, resulting in thousands of pages of records, lab reports, imaging and other documentation that has to be retrieved and reviewed.
During the review process, your medical malpractice attorney may find, with the help of his or her legal team and expert witnesses, that more than one provider was negligent and discover claims against additional providers.
This is why being thorough both in the initial investigation and throughout the process, specifically during the discovery phase, helps to ensure your law firm obtains the best result for you or your loved one(s).
Timeline For Medical Malpractice Settlements
While we strive to resolve your case as quickly as possible, we want to ensure that we get the best result possible, that we don’t leave any stone unturned, and that we consider all parties involved. While an offer may be made early on, we will not encourage you to settle unless we are convinced that you are getting a reasonable settlement and the best result we can achieve under the circumstances.
This sometimes means seeing your medical malpractice lawsuit through the discovery phase in order to get expert opinions on record. It can also mean seeing your case through to trial because the value of the damages/harm caused to you or your loved one(s) by the healthcare professional’s negligence is simply greater than the amount of money they are willing to offer.
Regardless, we are committed to seeing your case through to get you the best result possible and get justice for you and/or your loved one(s).
Once a settlement or verdict is reached, your medical malpractice attorney can help you decide whether a lump-sum payment or structured payments are best for your situation, and we will provide guidance throughout that process.
If you suspect that medical malpractice has occurred involving you or a loved one, we encourage you to seek legal counsel. We provide a free consultation and have a medical review panel that can help to answer questions and determine whether or not a medical malpractice lawyer can help you and/or your loved one(s).