Medical malpractice cases are often considered the most complex among lawsuits in the United States. They can take years to settle—the average length is three years—because they require multiple complicated processes and paperwork, and they can go on even longer if the case involves compound medical issues, multiple liable parties, and several witnesses. This is why it’s imperative to hire competent and experienced medical malpractice attorneys, like those at Strom Law, to help you navigate through this elaborate proceeding. Read on to find out more on how long medical malpractice cases take.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Before you even think of filing a medical malpractice suit, you need to determine if your case can be considered one in the first place. According to the South Carolina statute, medical malpractice is “doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would not do, or not doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would do in the same or similar circumstances.”
This can occur in many ways and involve any medical professional (not just doctors). Some of the most common examples of medical malpractice include:
- Surgery errors
- Wrong medication prescriptions
- Ignored or misinterpreted laboratory results
- Poor aftercare
If you’re wondering how much the average medical malpractice settlement is, the answer depends on the severity of your case. That said, the payout of major permanent injury cases averages $600,000, followed by significant permanent injury cases at $450,000, and wrongful death cases at $380,000.
The Process of a Medical Malpractice Case
The typical timeline of a medical malpractice case involves five general steps:
In Columbia, you must accomplish the following before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit:
- File a Notice of Intent to file the lawsuit, along with an expert affidavit (which must have been reviewed by an expert beforehand)
- Partake in a mediation conference
These additional steps were introduced to protect doctors and provide more hurdles before patients can simply sue medical professionals.
After all parties are notified about the lawsuit, both the plaintiff and defendant begin the process of discovery, where evidence, information, and documentation to support each side of the case are collected.
During the investigation, a third-party medical expert is called to review the details of the case and determine if a mistake that led to harm or suffering could be deemed negligent based on a determined standard of care.
After all evidence is investigated, both parties may attempt to reach a settlement through negotiations that could be beneficial to both parties.
Payout or Trial
Depending on negotiations, the case may end with a payout or trial.
How Long Do Medical Malpractice Cases Take?
Medical malpractice cases can take anywhere between months and years to settle. The average time it takes is three years, but can go on much longer if there are complex issues or complications that need to be addressed along the way.
Why Do Medical Malpractice Cases Take So Long?
Medical malpractice cases can go longer than usual when the following factors are present:
Complex Medical Issues
Complex medical issues will make it difficult to determine the elements of the case, such as knowing if multiple parties were negligent, determining which part of the treatment caused the problem, and many other factors.
Multiple Liable Parties
Medical malpractice cases often implicate multiple parties, not just the direct care physicians of the affected patient. It can take some time to sort through these people and determine who is ultimately responsible.
Both defense and prosecution call upon medical experts during medical malpractice trials. When these experts have varying opinions about the case, it may be more difficult to proceed.
Finding a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Columbia
Medical malpractice cases are grueling, but you can go through the process with more ease when you’re in the hands of experienced and knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys, such as those from Strom Law. If a Columbia medical malpractice injury has affected you or a loved one, contact one of Strom Law’s medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation.