Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional such as a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or anesthesiologist fails to uphold their usual standard of care, resulting in injury to a patient. If you were injured due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, you could be entitled to seek compensation for the harm you suffered and the losses you incurred. However, medical malpractice lawsuits can take months or even years to resolve, depending on the specifics of your situation. Many factors can influence the length of time it takes to secure compensation.
What Is the Timeline of a Medical Malpractice Case?
These are the basic steps in most New York medical malpractice claims:
1. Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
First, you should reach out to a highly-rated medical malpractice lawyer to handle your case. During your initial consultation, your attorney will likely ask you questions about the original health condition that led you to pursue treatment, the medical negligence that led to your injury or illness, the financial impact of the malpractice, and the physical and emotional pain and suffering you’ve endured due to the malpractice.
Your attorney will then conduct an independent investigation into the alleged medical malpractice. During their investigation, your attorney will gather and preserve evidence that can be used to prove, in court, that the accused medical provider was negligent. Essentially, the goal of this investigation is to determine if malpractice actually occurred and if your case will hold up in court. Depending on the circumstances of your case, this stage could take weeks or months.
2. File a Complaint
If your attorney’s investigation reveals that malpractice occurred, and you decide to move forward with legal action, you will need to file a lawsuit, also called a complaint. In the complaint, you will clearly state your allegations against the defendant. A summons will also be filed alongside the complaint, which orders the defendant to appear in court. Both documents must be served on the defendant.
In most New York medical malpractice cases, you’ll also need to submit a certificate of merit. This document states that your medical malpractice attorney has thoroughly evaluated your case, consulted with a minimum of one other medical provider regarding the details of your case, and ultimately concluded that there are reasonable grounds for a lawsuit.
Both sides are permitted to request and receive evidence that the other party plans to use in court during discovery. Because so much evidence must be gathered and reviewed to prove a medical malpractice case, the discovery period can take quite a while. You might be required to undergo a medical exam, and both sides will probably request affidavits and depositions. If a healthcare provider or medical facility refuses to cooperate, your attorney may have to force them to comply using the legal system. This can draw out the discovery phase even longer.
4. Settlement Negotiations
Many personal injury cases, including medical malpractice claims, settle before they reach trial. Your attorney will send the defendant a demand letter indicating the amount of compensation you request for your damages. If the defendant agrees to settle the case, you will sign a settlement agreement that releases them from further liability. If the two parties can’t agree on a settlement, the case will be litigated in court.
Both sides will present their evidence before a judge and jury at trial. The main factor influencing the trial length is the amount of evidence involved. During the trial, you must establish medical negligence, prove that the defendant was liable for your injuries or illness, and show that you suffered compensable losses, which can be financial (medical costs) or non-financial (pain and suffering).
It is then up to the jury to render a verdict. If you have successfully proved your case, the jury will determine how much compensation to award you. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you will have the option to appeal, though this can drag your case out even longer.
Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
The statute of limitations in New York for a medical malpractice lawsuit is generally 2.5 years. Per the statute of limitations, you have 2.5 years to take legal action against the defendant by filing a complaint. If you fail to initiate legal proceedings within that time frame, the court will most likely dismiss your case. Your case does not have to be resolved; you need to file a lawsuit within that time.
However, if you could not have reasonably been aware of the malpractice, the statute of limitations wouldn’t begin until you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the malpractice. If the malpractice occurred due to ongoing treatment, the legal clock would not begin ticking until your treatment was completed.
If you discover that a medical provider left a foreign object in your body (after surgery, for instance), you will need to initiate legal action within one year of discovering the foreign object. The statute of limitations does not begin until age 18 for minors affected by medical malpractice, though they cannot take legal action after ten years have passed.
Contact a New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If you have suffered injuries or a worsening medical condition due to medical malpractice, contact a New York medical malpractice attorney at Finz & Finz, P.C. to get started on your claim. We will put our skills and resources to work to help you seek the financial relief you need to cover medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. Reach out today to schedule a free case evaluation.