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Most personal injury lawsuits follow a fairly standard timeline: there's an accident, the injured party files a lawsuit, there's some discovery and settlement negotiations, and then a trial and damages verdict. But the timeline for a medical malpractice suits can be a little different.
The length of time for any case will generally depend on its complexity, and medical malpractice claims can be more complicated than most. And there are special time considerations to be aware of in medical malpractice cases. So here's a general timeline for medical malpractice lawsuits.
Incident and Investigation
Like any injury claim, there will be an incident that causes injury in a medical malpractice case. But medical malpractice injuries may be tougher to spot than your normal car accident injury. While some claims, like the failure to obtain informed consent or gross negligence might be easy to identify, errors in diagnosis, treatments or surgery could take longer to surface.
Most important are your first steps when you discover your injury. Your initial action should be to contact the doctor or medical professional in charge of your care. You need to know what may have gone wrong and allow your doctor to determine whether it is something that can be remedied. If it cannot, or your doctor refuses, you should contact the relevant medical licensing board.
If none of that works and you decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, make sure you gather all of the relevant documents and records relating to your medical care, so your attorney can properly assess your claim.
Time and Termination
One of the unique aspects of medical malpractice is the statute of limitations on claims, or the time limitations on when you can file a medical malpractice claim. If you fail to file a medical malpractice claim within a certain amount of time, you could be barred from recovering for your injuries.
State medical malpractice laws can vary, and the statute of limitations is generally between one and three years. So if you think you've been injured by negligent medical care, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney soon.