Have you been harmed due to medical malpractice and considering legal action? If so, you probably have questions regarding how long the process takes.
Medical negligence lawsuits are a drawn-out affair—the timeline is affected by several key variables. Understanding these factors will help you anticipate realistically how quickly or gradually your potential case will proceed.
With reasonable expectations set, you can weigh if litigating is worthwhile for your situation and goals. If you choose to file a lawsuit with a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer to seek fair compensation, you’re on the right page. This guide will help you comprehend what impacts the pace so you can plan effectively throughout a legal course that could span years.
Recognizing these eight influential dynamics also empowers more informed decision-making when evaluating options during pivotal moments.
Extent Of Injuries
The severity of the injuries you have suffered due to alleged medical negligence directly affects how long your malpractice lawsuit takes to resolve.
More severe injuries that result in ongoing disabilities, loss of limbs, disfigurement, or other major harm typically equate to higher potential damages you can seek. This provides stronger motivation for attorneys and insurers to thoroughly investigate before considering a settlement.
Cases involving catastrophic injuries often take over a year to settle, given the motivation to vigorously contest allegations of negligence when sums are largest. You can expect delays proportional to the level of disability and requirements of long-term care caused.
Number Of Defendants
Adding more defendants to your medical malpractice lawsuit can draw things out substantially. With multiple healthcare providers or institutions named as defendants, there are more legal defense teams to coordinate amongst. This introduces scheduling delays and complications in reaching agreements.
Cases involving several co-defendants frequently take multiple years to conclude, given the legal complexities of more parties in the mix. Expect your case duration to lengthen proportionally for each defendant added.
Willingness To Settle
An unwillingness by the defense to consider settlement proposals tends to prolong medical negligence suits. Defendants who refuse to negotiate in good faith and make reasonable offers to resolve cases voluntarily choose to undergo lengthy litigation instead.
If you hope to settle rapidly, be prepared to make justifiable demands and compromise when warranted. Intransigence prevents the compromise needed for quicker resolution.
Caseloads In Jurisdiction
The workloads of courts in your jurisdiction impact the timelines of your medical malpractice lawsuit as well. Courts with crowded dockets and long queues of cases ahead of yours mean more waiting in between key events like hearings, rulings on motions, and trial dates.
Judges, court staff, clerks, and surroundings are overutilized. This causes common delays of weeks or months just to get needed paperwork, book facilities, coordinate schedules, etc.
Higher overall caseloads stretch these resources thinner per case, introducing further delays. Jurisdictions with severe judicial understaffing often see malpractice suits drag years without representative progress each month.
Complexity of Case
The more intricate the medical and legal details involved in proving negligence and causation, the longer the duration typically needed to prepare arguments, conduct discovery, establish findings, litigate disputes over expert witnesses and technical evidence, etc.
Cases with convoluted theories of liability, discrepancies over what standards of care applied, and fierce disagreements between competing experts drag out substantially.
If either side chooses to appeal outcomes from lower courts, it adds considerable time to your medical malpractice lawsuit. The appeals process alone can take a year or longer in most jurisdictions. Given the high stakes involved in terms of potential damages, appealing unfavorable rulings is very common in malpractice suits.
Defendants often appeal large jury awards, while plaintiffs frequently contest dismissed cases or inadequate awards. You should anticipate that any outcome other than settlement has a high probability of entering lengthy appeals processes. This introduces substantial delays beyond initial trials, as appeals courts have heavy caseloads.
The caseloads of the attorneys involved impact timelines as well. Attorneys juggling numerous cases split their time menos efficiently, introduce scheduling conflicts more often, and have less capacity to be immediately responsive. Ask prospective attorneys about their current workloads to ensure they devote requisite attention to your suit.
Insurer Approval Delays
Insurers often take weeks reviewing settlement agreements, requests for additional reserves, permission to appeal, etc. These incremental lags accumulate, delaying resolution. Insurers scrutinize large payouts closely, so higher damages sought correlate to longer reviews.
Policies sometimes cap payouts unless committees approve further resources. These bureaucratic processes introduce waits.
The lifespan of a medical malpractice lawsuit hinges on many factors. The most impactful include the extent of injuries, number of defendants, willingness to settle reasonably, legal workload constraints, and complex appeal risks. Understanding these dynamics facilitates better readiness. With realistic perspectives on time investments required, plaintiffs can budget resources accordingly over a prolonged legal course.