> How Long Will My Case Take?
How Long Will My Case Take?
How Long Will My Case Take?
Most of our cases are resolved, successfully, in a period of one to three years.
Our time-to-result compares very favorably to other malpractice firms, as the "average" time to resolution of New York malpractice cases is generally five years or longer.
This reflects our philosophy to prosecute cases aggressively: to obtain an expeditious and favorable result.
We have systems in place, and a philosophy of practice, to ensure that none of our clients or their cases are "neglected."
The following describes the "stages" of a typical New York malpractice case, to help you understand how a case progresses to settlement or trial:
Before we bring a case, we conduct rigorous investigations to ensure that the case has merit, and formulate a suitable case strategy.
Pre-suit investigation normally takes several weeks, depending upon the complexity of the case and responsiveness of physicians to medical record requests.
To start your case, we prepare a "Complaint" that broadly states our allegations.
Our Complaint is "served" on the Defendants in a manner specified by law. Then, Defendants normally have one month to serve their "Answer" to the Complaint (formal admissions and denials).
The law allows each party to the case opportunity to request documentary and other information from other parties. The exchange of information required by these rules is known generally as "discovery" or "disclosure."
The Defendants' initial discovery demands usually include: exchange of medical records, relevant earnings and insurance information. We inform our clients exactly what is needed, in an organized fashion, so this does not burden our clients, or delay their cases.
After initial information exchanges, the Court will schedule a "Preliminary Conference." This is an attorneys conference (without clients) in the Courthouse.
At this time (typically a few to six months after initiating suit) a Judge is assigned to your case. The attorneys and Judge decide upon a schedule for "depositions" (see below) and other exchanges of information to take place, prior to Trial.
Depositions are a critical phase in the case, in which each side has the opportunity to question the other side (usually in an attorney's office) under oath.
The law allows the Defendants to take the Plaintiff's deposition first. Then, we will question Defendants and their witnesses.
Getting "On Line" For Trial
When depositions and information exchanges are completed, the Plaintiff is allowed to file a "Note of Issue." This places us "on line" for trial. We normally seek to achieve this stage of a case within one to two years of filing suit.
This is often a time when both sides review their cases, and negotiated settlements may be considered. All negotiations are discussed with our clients in advance, and conducted only according to terms approved by our clients.
In most New York counties, a case will be scheduled for a Court conference from six to several months after being placed on line for trial. At this conference, a date is set for trial. This is also, sometimes used by the Court as an opportunity to discuss potential settlement.
While we always give our best, informed advice to clients on the possibilities for a favorable settlement, it is always your decision as the Client whether you wish us to pursue a negotiated solution, or proceed to Trial.
At trial, wepresent our evidence and arguments to the Jury, which renders a decision on the case.
The Judge makes all determinations on the legal issues (such as what evidence will be allowed to be presented to the Jury). The Jury decides your case, according to "instructions" on the law as given by the Judge.
As Plaintiff, we must prove our case by "a preponderance of the evidence." This means that we must show that it is more likely than not that malpractice was committed. We are not required to prove our case "beyond a reasonable doubt" which is a higher "burden of proof" reserved for criminal cases.
Trial begins with Jury Selection. This may take from a few hours to a few days.
Once the Jury is selected, the Courtroom phase begins, with Opening Statements given by each side.
Witnesses are then called: first by Plaintiff, then by Defendants. Each side has the opportunity to question ("cross-examine") witnesses for the other side, which normally includes one or more medical experts in a medical malpractice case.
After all witnesses and evidence, both sides give their Summations to the Jury. The Jury then deliberates on the case and renders its verdict. The parties may also settle the case at any time prior to verdict, if they so choose.
Trial of a complex case involving medical malpractice normally takes about two to three weeks.
This is not legal advice, but intended to provide general information on the procedural stages of a medical malpractice case in New York. The characteristics and timetables of individual cases may vary.