It is normal to want a quick resolution for your medical malpractice claim. Waiting for a claim to process and a settlement check to arrive can be difficult while also dealing with painful personal injuries and mounting medical bills. The timeline for each medical malpractice case will vary according to its details. The most accurate estimate of the length of your case will come from an Albuquerque medical malpractice attorney.
Settlement vs. Trial
One of the key components in determining how long a medical malpractice case lasts is whether it settles during pre-trial negotiations or has to go to trial. Most medical malpractice cases settle at the insurance stage, outside of court. You can improve your odds of achieving a fair settlement without a trial by hiring an New Mexico personal injury attorney to handle negotiations for you. Even a settlement, however, takes time to file motions, discover the facts of the case, gather evidence and go through the insurance process.
The average medical malpractice settlement takes three months or longer from start to finish. This timeline involves filing the claim, submitting supporting evidence, waiting for the point of maximum medical improvement, obtaining medical records and doctors’ letters, waiting for the insurance company’s response, submitting your counteroffer, and negotiating back and forth for a fair resolution. If a malpractice claim has to go to trial, it can take longer than a settlement to finish.
Most medical malpractice trials last a year or longer in New Mexico. You will have to wait for your appointed court date, which could be several weeks or months into the future. A trial can involve time-consuming processes such as subpoenaing evidence, deposing witnesses, going through the discovery phase, filing pre-trial motions and attending pre-trial hearings. While a medical malpractice trial could result in a better payout than an insurance settlement, the process can take much longer. A lawyer can determine the right route for your suit.
Issues That Could Delay Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Factors such as the severity of your injuries, how long it will take to reach the point of maximum medical improvement, how busy or backed up the courthouse is, and whether you can resolve your case via settlement can play a role in how long your medical malpractice claim lasts. You may have to wait months or years for an outcome, even if you do everything right. Certain mistakes in the handling of your claim, however, could cause unnecessary delays.
- Naming the incorrect defendant. It can be difficult to understand the correct defendant for a malpractice claim. For example, a doctor’s malpractice might be the vicarious liability of the hospital. Filing a claim against the wrong party could lead to delays.
- Missing information on the original claim. Missing facts or details on your original malpractice claim could make the courts have to return it to you for more information.
- Filing with the wrong courthouse. File your claim in the county where the malpractice occurred or where the defendant lives. Filing in the wrong county or courthouse may mean starting your claim over.
Failing to use an attorney could also make your claim take longer than necessary. Handling a medical malpractice claim yourself could expose you to clerical errors, missed requirements and other preventable mistakes that may delay your claim. Using an attorney right from the start of your case will allow for a speedy and efficient legal process. Your lawyer will do his or her best to minimize the amount of time it takes to resolve your claim.
When Will You Receive Your Check?
You should receive a settlement check from an insurance company in the mail within four to six weeks of the date you resolve the case. Some factors could delay payout, however, such as the insurance company’s specific process. If the defendant refuses to pay a judgment award or an insurance company is unnecessarily delaying your payout, talk to an attorney about your options. Additional legal action may be necessary to speed things along.