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Medical malpractice is far more common than many people realize. In fact, medical malpractice is among the leading causes of premature death in the United States. However, medical malpractice lawsuits can hold irresponsible medical facilities and practitioners accountable for their mistakes. Bear in mind that medical malpractice claims in Maryland are complex and require the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney in Baltimore.
Ask a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Baltimore: How Long Will a Case Take?
Medical malpractice cases can vary considerably from one person to the next, making it difficult to predict exactly how long they will take to resolve. However, most claims will close between six and 18 months. Some more complex cases could take longer to resolve. More than 600 malpractice suits are filed in Maryland each year, meaning that the courts can also be burdened and unable to schedule a trial in your case very quickly.
There are many other factors that can influence your case. Some cases are more obvious situations of medical malpractice, making them easy to prove. Others can require more evidence, which makes it harder to build a case quickly. There are several different kinds of situations that qualify for a medical malpractice lawsuit. For more information, click here. Regardless of your exact circumstances, all cases will adhere to a general timeline.
The Medical Malpractice Case Timeline
Some of these phases can be completed in very little time, while others can cause the case to drag out longer. You have some input in these situations, as well.
The Initial Injury
When you were initially injured due to medical malpractice is an important factor in the timeline of your case. First, this event will determine whether your case is admissible under the statute of limitations. In Maryland, you are allowed to sue at any time within five years of the date of the injury, which would likely be when you were in the hospital.
However, in some cases, patients do not notice that they’ve been the victim of medical malpractice for months or even years later. For instance, a surgical tool could have been left in your body, causing strange pain that you cannot seem to get rid of. A year later, you get an x-ray and find that medical malpractice was the cause all along. In these cases, you are given three years after the discovery of the injury.
Your First Contact With a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Baltimore
The sooner you start your case, the more likely you are to get a settlement quickly. That’s because it’s easier to gather evidence about recent events. Furthermore, hospitals will try to argue that you would have filed a claim sooner if your injuries were actually serious. However, lawyers know that these defenses don’t hold up in court and will be able to fight off those specious arguments.
Schedule a meeting with a lawyer as soon as you suspect that medical malpractice may have been involved in your case. Even if you don’t yet have all of your medical bills or other expenses gathered, you can start discussing your options with a lawyer. A lawyer can also give you advice as to how to proceed, even if you are still receiving medical treatment.
Getting Another Physician’s Support
Once you’ve spoken with a lawyer, your next step will be to get another physician to support your medical malpractice lawsuit. If you know someone who would be willing to support your case, you can accelerate this process. However, if you need another medical professional’s opinion, an experienced medical malpractice attorney will know someone who can assist you.
Getting another physician’s letter of support can take as little as a few days or as long as a couple of months. It depends on how available the physician is and how many other requests they may be involved in. Once you have this written document, and others your lawyer has requested, you can file a lawsuit.
The Discovery Phase
Discovery is where most lawsuits spend the majority of their time. In this phase, both your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyers will gather evidence from one another to support their claims. If this includes depositions from witnesses, that can also add to the total time. This phase can take anywhere from 3 months to a full year, though most cases finish this stage within 6 months.
Negotiating a Settlement
If your evidence is substantial and the defending party senses that they will lose the case in court, they will usually offer you a settlement. If you accept this settlement, you may receive compensation in as little as 30 days. However, you may wish to negotiate the settlement further. Each round of negotiations adds time to the whole process. Consult your lawyer to determine whether or not additional negotiations are ideal in your situation.