Written by Avvo Staff

What are the possible outcomes of a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Compared to other types of personal injury cases, medical malpractice is comparatively more time-consuming and expensive to pursue. For this reason, medical malpractice lawyers will only pursue a case when the potential settlement award significantly outweighs any litigation costs. Consult with a lawyer if you are unsure if you have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Verdict: guilty

In the event that your doctor admits to malpractice, or is found guilty in court, you will receive a settlement. A settlement is a financial award for your damages.

Your attorney and the defendant's attorney will create a release, the document that details how you will receive your settlement award, determined by state laws, your age, and your injuries. On average, it will take about 30 days for both lawyers to agree on the terms of the settlement.

Your attorney will then receive a check from the defendant's insurance company. Usually that check goes into an account where your lawyer pays any costs associated with your trial. Generally, your lawyer will receive 20 to 40% of the settlement, then deduct any court costs or discovery of information fees. The remainder of that money will be paid to you based on the release terms.

Keep in mind that your healthcare provider will probably keep his or her license. The state medical board will typically not revoke a doctor’s license unless they have been found guilty of malpractice on numerous occasions.

Verdict: not guilty

In the event that your case goes to court and loses, you will most likely not have to pay your attorney. Most malpractice lawyers work on for a contingency fee that you only pay if you win. However, there are other legal fees like discovery or filing fees, and witnesses will still need to be paid for their time. Whether or not you pay some or all of these bills depends on the agreement between you and your lawyer.

In some cases, there is the option to appeal, but only if a reversible error affected the outcome of the trial. Common reversible errors include excluding key evidence or giving a jury inaccurate instructions. Your lawyer can help you determine if your trial qualifies for an appeal. Keep in mind that an appeal could take longer or cost more your first trial.

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