Many medical malpractice claims can be settled outside the courtroom. However, the negotiation process is complicated and many factors influence the process. Even if you believe you want to avoid a lengthy trial, you still need an experienced medical practice attorney advocating on your behalf.
Before you agree to a settlement in a medical malpractice case, you need to understand the value and legal strength of your claim. Otherwise, it is impossible to accurately assess an insurance company’s offer. This means, even if you want to avoid court, you still must go through much of the same vigorous legwork required in preparing a lawsuit. In most cases, to obtain a reasonable settlement figure, a victim of medical malpractice should still file a claim in civil court.
Our Arkansas medical malpractice attorneys have the experience, resources, and capability of building a compelling case or aggressively representing your interests during negotiations. To discuss your legal and settlement options, call our law offices at (479) 316-0438.
When Can I Settle My Medical Malpractice Claim?
Before getting into the nuts and bolts of how a settlement happens, it is important to know when one could occur. If a plaintiff has elected to pursue a jury trial, the parties could agree to a settlement anytime before a jury verdict is rendered. There is no rule dictating when a settlement needs to be reached. In some situations, it could occur before a lawsuit is filed.
Once a lawsuit is filed, several wheels are set in motion. One of the most important ones is known as the discovery phase. During this process, each side has legal tools to request evidence and information from each other. Through formal requests for documents, interrogatories, and depositions, our Bentonville medical malpractice attorneys will work to collect evidence to support your claim. As more onion layers are peeled away and more information comes to light, an insurance company might become more open to settling the case for a reasonable amount.
Proving Negligence and Causation in a Medical Malpractice Claim
Whether you wish to pursue your case at trial or negotiate a settlement, you still must have enough evidence to establish that a medical professional’s negligence caused your injury. Our office will help gather all the pertinent evidence and information that could be used to prove negligence.
Medical malpractice claims are significantly different from other personal injury claims. Most people have no problem determining that a drunk driver who ignored a stop sign and collided with your car acted negligently. However, proving that misdiagnosis was negligent and not a justifiable error gave a patient’s symptoms is outside the scope of knowledge most people possess. Therefore, it is critical to seek a medical assessment from another qualified doctor to confirm that medical malpractice occurred. A certificate of merit is a statement by a qualified medical professional that will indicate that the level of care you received deviated from what a reasonable and a similarly trained doctor would have provided given the same circumstances. This information is necessary when you file a lawsuit and is crucial in supporting your position during a settlement negotiation.
Determining the Value of Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Before considering accepting a settlement or making a counter-offer, you need to know what your claim is worth. The value of your claim is based on many different factors, including the cost of medical treatment you have received and the expense of future medical procedures. You should also recover any lost wages because of missed time at work or if your earning capacity has been diminished due to complications attributable to the malpractice. In addition to the financial losses you suffered, there is also intangible harm to consider, such as pain and suffering.
Negotiating the Settlement
If the available evidence supports your claim, negotiations could begin between our office and the insurance provider for the medical professional. While every negotiation is unique, many follow a similar pattern.
When faced with a potential lawsuit, an insurer could offer an amount that they calculate based on the information in their possession. After valuing your claim, you are in a position to make an informed decision regarding the offer. It is not uncommon to reply with a counter-offer that reflects our office’s estimation of your damages.
The settlement process could take more time than you expect, especially if your future medical costs or condition are uncertain. You want to avoid agreeing to a settlement amount that does not compensate you for all your damages. When you accept an offer, you release your doctor and their insurance provider from further liability.
If the lawsuit is moving forward, additional information that comes to light during the pre-trial motions and discovery process could influence the steps an insurance provider takes. When the growing mountain of evidence supports your claim, a better offer could be forthcoming to eliminate the additional expenses and uncertainty of a trial.
The Negligent Doctor Must Approve the Medical Malpractice Settlement
In other personal injury cases, such as a car accident, the insurance company representing the defendant has the authority to enter into a settlement agreement. However, when a medical or healthcare professional is facing a malpractice claim, they must authorize any settlement before it is finalized. Many doctors take a passionate stand when defending a medical malpractice claim. They will often choose to have the case tried instead of agreeing to a settlement that will automatically increase their insurance premiums and harm their reputation. Because the stakes are high for all parties involved, you need our experienced Sebastian County medical malpractice attorneys in your corner.
Contact Our Arkansas Medical Malpractice Attorneys Before Accepting a Settlement
Victims of medical malpractice could be facing a lifetime of complications and costly treatments. The settlement process is substantially more complicated than a typical personal injury case. Our Arkansas medical malpractice lawyers have handled challenging negotiations and litigation for over two decades. If you or a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, call our law offices at (479) 316-0438.