Medical Malpractice

What Happens in a Malpractice Lawsuit?

If a medical professional has harmed you or someone you know, it’s within your rights in the state of Kansas to seek legal recourse. But, when you’re looking at filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s important to understand the nuances of such complex cases.

There is so much more that has to be done to get you the compensation you deserve than just your lawyer sending paperwork to the doctor who caused you harm.

In this post, we’ll break down the details of what happens in a malpractice lawsuit to help you understand what to expect before beginning legal proceedings of your own.

Evaluating Your Case

Before you can sue the health care provider who caused you harm, it’s best to sit down with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who understands these cases and who can guide you through the entire process. There are a few important details that must be looked at before your lawyer files a lawsuit.

Kansas Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

One of the first things your lawyer may look at is if your case has exceeded the statute of limitations. If it has already expired, there’s really nothing you can do. However, if you still have time within the legally allowed two years from the date you were harmed (or from the time you could reasonably know about your injury), then your lawyer can help you build a case.

Medical Standard of Care

The standard of care is used to determine if a medical practitioner breached the duty of care they owed you. If it can be determined by your lawyer that that professional failed to meet the standard of care and that their failure resulted in the harm you suffered, then you have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Gathering Evidence

It’s important to understand that there are different types of medical malpractice cases, and legal matters like these may require varying evidence to support them. By gathering and thoroughly reviewing all the evidence that pertains to your claim, your lawyer will have a better understanding of it and will, therefore, be able to build a better case against the doctor or other medical professional who caused you harm.

Moving Forward with a Lawsuit

If your case is within the statute of limitations and you have enough supporting evidence that the provider deviated from the acceptable standard of care, then you can move forward with a lawsuit.

The following is a typical series of events during a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Discovery Phase

Once you begin lawsuit proceedings, the next most important step is collecting all the information relevant to your case. Your lawyer may already have all of your documentation; however, once the lawsuit has started, your lawyer will likely be able to gather other information from the practitioner oneself, their place of work, or any other relevant documents to help your case.

Similarly, the health care provider you are building a case against can have their attorney collect any documentation about you that they might want to help defend against your claims of malpractice.

Screening Panel Review

According to Kansas Statute 65-4901, any health care provider who is the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit can ask the court to order a medical malpractice screening panel. These panels are intended to assess the merits of the patient’s claims and usually consist of one health care provider each:

  • Chosen by the plaintiff (you)
  • Selected by the defendant (your doctor or another medical practitioner)
  • Agreed upon by both parties

That panel should also include a lawyer chosen by the courts.

The selected panel will then review all the details of your case, consider all the evidence, and decide if there was a deviation from the medical standard of care and if there was a causal relationship between that deviation and the harm that the patient suffered.

The panel’s written recommendation will be admissible in any medical malpractice lawsuit, and its members should be available to testify at trial. Additionally, Kansas Statute 65-4908 states that the statute of limitations will be paused until 30 days after the screening panel has issued its written recommendation.

Negotiation and Settlement

In many malpractice cases, settlement negotiations may be the best option for resolution. These are discussions between all parties involved, in which they attempt to reach a reasonable agreement on how much compensation will be paid out to the victim in exchange for a dismissal of the lawsuit.

Negotiations can be conducted at any point during the legal process but are most often done after the discovery phase when both parties have a better understanding of the facts of the case and the potential outcome.

Trial Proceedings and Litigation

If negotiations fail, your case may go to trial. During the trial and litigation process, evidence and arguments will be presented. Generally, this will involve obtaining and reviewing medical records as well as securing expert witnesses (such as any health care professionals who are assisting with your recovery) to testify on your behalf.

You and your attorney will present your argument, and then the health care provider and their attorney will present their defense. After that, the jury or judge will thoroughly review all evidence, arguments, testimonies, etc., and make a decision. This decision may result in you being awarded compensation, including how much compensation you should be given, or it may result in no compensation being awarded to you.

Trials are notoriously lengthy and stressful not only for the plaintiffs but for all involved, and they can also be quite costly. However, trials are often necessary, especially for victims who want justice and compensation for their losses after a settlement can’t be reached. A trial that successfully holds a health care professional responsible for the harm they’ve caused may also lead to more victims stepping up and the provider being prevented from causing further harm.

Appealing a Decision

After a verdict has been reached, either party may choose to appeal the court’s decision. This appeal process could give you and your lawyer the chance to continue to seek justice for your losses. Alternatively, it could give the health care provider the chance to further defend themselves against the claims of malpractice brought against them.

As you can see, medical malpractice lawsuits can be very complex and may take a long time to resolve. This is why it’s so important to seek out professional legal help before attempting to file a lawsuit, especially on your own. Our team at Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska LLC has the skill and qualifications to assist you through the entire process in hopes of reaching a favorable outcome on your behalf.

We Want to Help

Our highly qualified and compassionate team is available to listen and evaluate your case. We do not charge any fees unless we win. Call us at (800) 266-0036 to get started!

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