FAQs: Medical Malpractice
How do I know if I have a case?
A bad outcome alone does not mean that a doctor, nurse or other health care professional was negligent. However, if you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a health care provider to whom you have entrusted your care, then you may have a case. The only way to know if your injury likely was the result of malpractice is to have your case reviewed by an experienced lawyer who will consult with medical experts to determine if substandard care caused your injury.
How long do I have to file a case?
The length of time within which you have to file a case is limited in each state by statute. The statute governing time limits for legal action is called a statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state:
- In Ohio, you have one year to pursue a claim for medical negligence. You have two years to pursue a claim for wrongful death.
- In Kentucky, you have one year to pursue a claim for medical negligence and one year to pursue a claim for wrongful death.
The statute generally runs from the time the negligence occurred, and there are very few exceptions. If you fail to file your claim before the applicable statute of limitations runs out, then you will be barred from ever bringing it. As a result, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer immediately upon discovering that negligence has occurred.
How much do I have to pay to meet with you?
We will not charge you for a consultation concerning your medical malpractice claim.
How much will it cost me to pursue a case for medical malpractice?
The costs of pursuing a complex medical malpractice case can be staggering. These cases are hard-fought and heavily defended. Properly prepared, these cases often require your attorneys to conduct numerous depositions, to retain a multitude of experts in wide-ranging specialties, and to retain consultants, artists, vendors and other specialists.
We know that our clients are usually financially devastated by the injuries they have suffered. Frequently, the primary wage earner is injured. In other cases, the cost and time associated with caring for an injured spouse or child wipes out savings and makes it impossible to continue working.
We respect these issues. As a result, we handle the vast majority of our cases on a contingency fee basis. Further, we generally advance all of the expenses of litigation. In other words, with few exceptions, if we do not win at trial or obtain a settlement on your behalf, you will owe us nothing.
How long will it take until my case goes to trial?
This varies from state to state, court to court and case to case. There are deadlines and timelines in each step of litigation spelled out in the rules of civil procedure of the state in which the case is pending. Other timelines and deadlines are spelled out in local rules and court orders of the courts in which the case is pending. As a general rule, due to the extensive discovery required and the number of parties generally involved, it is rare to see a medical malpractice case go to trial sooner than two years from filing.
What is tort reform?
Tort reform refers to the effort on the part of the malpractice insurance industry and certain politicians to pass new laws that would limit damage awards and greatly restrict the ability of injured patients to sue health care providers. These proposals and the publicity surrounding them have made it an unfair playing field in court for victims of malpractice. Juries that have heard these false and unfair stories about medical malpractice cases are reluctant to award damages against doctors and hospitals, even in legitimate cases.
Do I have to pay my insurance company back for medical bills?
Generally, yes. When someone is injured as a result of another’s negligence, the health insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid has a subrogation interest or lien. This means that while it is required to pay your medical bills pursuant to the terms of the insurance contract, you must pay it back from the settlement proceeds or a verdict.