How Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Work?

Medical malpractice claims can be some of the most complicated claims that a person can ever have. 

Attorney Heath Brooks

Medical malpractice breaks the trust patients have in medical professionals. You should be able to expect hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to treat you with respect and provide high-quality care.

Unfortunately, medical malpractice is common. But not many people know how a medical malpractice lawsuit works.

Each medical malpractice case starts with medical negligence.

Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Medical negligence is the failure to provide the right medical care, which leads to a patient getting hurt. Therefore, It is important to hold healthcare professionals accountable when they do not follow procedures and standards that keep patients safe.

Attorney Heath Brooks explains the process of proving medical negligence in the following video. 

Filing a medical malpractice claim

In Alabama, in order to go ahead with a medical malpractice lawsuit, the victim must first file a complaint. A complaint is the first in a personal injury case. It tells the court and the other person involved that you will be seeking compensation for your losses.

The Alabama Medical Liability Act requires the initial complaint to include:

  • A detailed description of the malpractice that happened
  • The date, time, and place of the malpractice

If you don’t provide a specific description of the defendant’s malpractice, the court might dismiss the lawsuit.

What happens if the case proceeds to trial?

A jury listens to a medical malpractice case in Huntsville, AlabamaA malpractice trial is the result of a lawsuit that takes a long time. Sometimes it can take years of investigation to prove a medical professional did something wrong.

Here’s what to expect when a case goes to trial:

  • Jury selection – Depending on the courtroom, potential jurors will be questioned by either attorneys or the judge.
  • Opening statements – The attorneys for both parties will say what to expect during the trial. They will also each talk about the case from their side’s perspectives.
  • Presenting the case – Each attorney presents their side using witnesses and evidence to prove their points. The attorneys may also call expert witnesses to testify about what happened and whether it was negligence or not.
  • Closing arguments – This is the part of the trial where each side tells the court why they think their position is right. They will go over the strongest points from the trial.
  • Deliberation – After closing arguments, the jury goes to a separate room to review the evidence and ask questions.

Other Important Information

Alabama has a contributory negligence rule. This means that if you are found to be even slightly responsible for your injuries, you won’t receive any compensation. For example, if the court finds your doctor 95% responsible for your injuries and you 5% responsible, you won’t receive any money.

There is also a two-year statute of limitations from the date the malpractice occurred. However, there is an exception for patients who could not have reasonably known about the malpractice within those first two years. The law gives those patients six months from the date they found out about the malpractice to file a lawsuit.

Alabama sets a limit of four years to file a lawsuit after an injury from malpractice. This limit is enforced even if the injury is not discovered until more than four years have passed since the malpractice incident.

If you are injured because of a mistake made by your doctor, you may be able to file a lawsuit. It is important to hire an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a healthcare professional, please contact Timberlake & League. We can help.