Once your medical malpractice lawyer gathers the necessary records and information including favorable opinion(s) from medical expert(s) regarding your medical malpractice claim, he may forward a settlement demand to the negligent health care provider and/or his medical malpractice insurance company or he may file the formal claim either with the court or with the required forum in your state (some states require that the medical malpractice claim not be filed with the court (at least initially) but rather with a special arbitration or other forum specified by the state’s laws).
Once the formal medical malpractice claim is filed with the appropriate forum, there is usually a delay while the claim papers and other necessary documents are processed and then formally delivered to (served on) the named medical malpractice defendants. The medical malpractice defendants will then have a specified period of time in which to respond in writing to the claim such as raising preliminary matters or filing a formal response such as a denial of the claims made against the defendants.
The parties to the medical malpractice claim then typically engage in what is known as “discovery.” Discovery is the process by which the parties seek information and documents from each other in order to investigate the basis of the claims made and the stated defenses to the claims. Discovery requests usually come in many forms such as interrogatories (interrogatories are written questions that must be answered in writing and under oath), requests for the production of documents (the written requests for documents often require a written response to each document request as well as the production of either the original documents or a complete and accurate copy of the requested documents), requests for admission of facts whereby the parties request that certain facts be admitted for purposes of the claim so that formal proof of the facts need not be produced during the trial or during other proceedings, depositions of the parties, factual witnesses, and experts hired by the parties (depositions are testimony under oath usually taken before a court reporter or some other authorized person (either recorded in writing and/or by video) that typically take place in the lawyers’ offices, the experts’ offices, or some other place specified by the person requesting the deposition), etc. More often than not there are disagreements or disputes regarding the extent of the information requested during discovery or the information provided during discovery that may require a judge or some other person who has authority over the claim to hear the disputes and make determinations as to the extent of the allowable discovery. Discovery activities usually take place over the course of many months or even years.
Once discovery is concluded, then the parties may file certain motions (a motion is a written request by a party to a claim that requests the court or other forum to take a requested action with regard to a certain matter brought before them) and responses to motions that may be determined before the claim is ready to be heard and determined by the court, a jury, or other forum.
Our next blog will discuss what you may expect during the trial or other hearing involving your medical malpractice claim.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of negligent medical care (medical malpractice), turn to us when you don’t know where to turn. You can use our website to find medical malpractice lawyers in your local area to discuss your possible medical malpractice claim. You may also telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959.