If you’ve searched the internet for answers about your medical malpractice suit, you are probably reading about how “complex” medical malpractice suits are.
Talking about their complexity isn’t just for your information; it’s also a warning. Medical malpractice cases take longer than other personal injury cases.
The complexity of a medical malpractice suit determines how long it will take to resolve. If a case goes to trial, it could be well over two years before you receive compensation for your case.
While this amount of time is an average, there is the possibility it can settle quicker. Below is some information to help guide your expectations regarding medical practice suit timelines from beginning to settlement or trial.
How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Suit Take?
While the statute of limitations governs the deadline for an initial lawsuit filing (two years from the alleged injury), the actual progression of a malpractice case depends on its unique facts.
There is no general rule on a medical malpractice case’s length. As noted above, the case’s complexity generally drives how long a medical malpractice suit takes.
One reason that medical malpractice lawsuits are more complicated than other personal injury cases is that Missouri law requires the case to involve an expert opinion from a “legally qualified health care provider.”
This requirement aims to filter out potentially frivolous claims, but it also holds things up very early in a case. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you get the healthcare provider opinion you need. Our law firm has medical staff dedicated to that purpose.
While no two cases are the same, there are similar steps each case will take. For example, most cases have a document review and settlement negotiation stages.
Once you hire a lawyer, the law firm will start researching the incident and identifying what the healthcare provider did wrong. They will also review the medical evidence.
If the healthcare professional provided continuous care to the patient, there could be thousands of pages of treatment records, lab reports, etc., that must be requested and reviewed.
It may take four to six months or more to gather documents, expert opinions, and other evidence for your case before even filing a lawsuit.
Once your lawyer distills all this information, they will be ready to write a demand letter to the healthcare provider’s insurance company or any other appropriate party in your case.
A demand letter is the first step in pursuing a settlement. A settlement is an agreement between the parties to resolve the claim by covering your losses, including medical bills, future care costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
Your lawyer will propose an appropriate value for your case and request that amount from the insurance company. If an insurance company is willing to negotiate, typical negotiations can last from a few months to a year. If the company does not negotiate, prepare to settle in for the long haul because the next phase is litigation, which can take several additional years.
If your lawyer cannot reach a fair settlement for your case, they will have no choice but to pursue litigation. Medical malpractice claims often have multiple parties, including doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare workers.
Each named defendant may be represented by their own attorney, so there could be dozens of lawyers on the case. Something as mundane as scheduling a court conference may take weeks because of scheduling conflicts.
The early parts of litigation aim to discover, identify and review all the relevant evidence. Ultimately, you must prove that a healthcare provider caused your injuries, the extent of your injuries, and whether the doctor deviated from the standards of care in causing the patient’s injuries.
If your case goes to trial, a jury will decide if you’ve proven your case and whether you deserve compensation. The parties could reach a settlement in the middle of litigation, but if not, it could take several years until your case goes to trial.
What Will Hold Up My Lawsuit?
While no one can guarantee exactly how long a case may take, understanding the various external factors that delay a medical malpractice case might make the wait more bearable.
Generally, complicated medical malpractice cases take longer to settle than simple ones. Factors that complicate a case might be:
- Complex medical issues;
- Complex or novel legal issues;
- Large numbers of witnesses; and
- Multiple health care providers, each of whom may be separately liable for medical negligence.
Poor communication between the insurance company and the adjuster can also slow down the process. You might also be wondering, when you win a malpractice lawsuit, How long does it take to get your money?
If you’ve won your medical malpractice case, you’ve already waited an unbearable amount of time. Knowing you’ve waited this long can sometimes make the last couple of months drag on the slowest.
A couple of other steps must happen before you get your check. First, the insurance company will provide a release. The release is a written acceptance of the settlement offer and relinquishes the insurance company from further legal action related to the incident or injuries. Your attorney will need to review the release and approve it. Then, you will need to sign and return the release.
Once the release is out of the way, the insurance company will send a check to your attorney, who will, in turn, pay you. Over a month may pass after accepting the settlement for the money to be in hand.
Kansas City Medical Malpractice Attorney
The attorneys at Dempsey Kingsland Osteen have over 75 years of combined experience in medical negligence cases and have secured millions of dollars for our clients. After an initial consultation, we’ll be able to give you a better idea of how long your medical malpractice lawsuit will take. Let us use our experience in your favor. Contact us today.