One of the main things that people ask when they decide to start a medical malpractice case is simple: How long will the case take? How much is that case worth and when should they expect to see the money?
It's natural to feel this way. You may have outstanding hospital bills as a result of the incident. Maybe you can't work anymore and you need to replace your income. Maybe you just feel wronged for the pain and suffering you had to endure thanks to someone else's mistake, and you want compensation for that.
However, the thing to remember is that this isn't a vending machine. You can't just start your case, make your demands, and expect a quick payout. You also can't expect to get as much or as little as other cases you have heard about.
Every case is unique. There are far too many factors involved. The time frame depends on those factors. Ask yourself these four questions to gather more information:
1. What is the extent of the injuries?
If you're looking at serious, life-changing injuries, the potential financial recovery is probably much higher. This is especially true if you can't work. However, this may also mean that the case takes longer, as the court needs a lot of information to make that ruling.
2. Will there be any punitive damages?
Typically, damages are just to make up for what you've lost: Income, medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life. Those are a few examples. Punitive damages, though, are used to punish negligent health care providers. They don't apply to all cases, but they may apply to yours. You need to know if they're allowed.
3. How long will the injuries last?
Are you looking at injuries that should heal in the next six months, or are you looking at a brain injury that could change the rest of your entire life? The scope of the issue makes a big difference in compensation because it shows what you're getting compensated for. If they're life-changing injuries, this can make the case take longer while determining what the long-term financial impact looks like, but that could also lead to a larger financial compensation package.
4. Who is the defendant?
Some medical providers and their insurance companies are more likely to fight the case and dispute the allegations. They may want to get the case thrown out entirely or they may simply fight for a lower level of compensation. How willing they are to deny responsibility makes a drastic difference in how long this process takes.
If you're thinking of starting a medical malpractice case, proper perspective is important. It's also wise to know all of the legal steps you need to take.