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Medical Malpractice Trials

In many instances when a personal injury claim is filed, the plaintiff and the defendant will attempt to find a settlement that both sides can agree on. If they fail to do this, a trial by jury may be the only recourse. In particular, medical malpractice trials pose some unique challenges from other injury trials. If you are seeking compensation for medical mishap, a skilled medical malpractice attorney could help prepare you for a trial.

medical malpractice trials

Which Side Gives Their Opening Statement First?

In a malpractice case, the plaintiff’s team always gives the first opening statement. The plaintiff has a burden of proof to prove the case, meaning the jury must determine that it was more likely than not that the negligence occurred. If multiple defendants are named, the defendants will present opening statements and evidence in the order that they are named on the complaint.

The plaintiff’s attorneys will present their case first – including any evidence, witnesses, and experts. They could also call any defendants up for cross-examination to get their side of the story and try to find discrepancies or evidence of negligence. When the team has made their case, the defense then has a chance to make theirs.

Closing Statements

For closing statements, the plaintiff once again goes first, followed by the defendant. However, the plaintiff then has the option of a rebuttal close, meaning they have one final chance to refute the defense’s case before the jury makes their decision.

Presenting the Case at Trial

The most important factors a lawyer must focus on to make their case is: the caregiver had a duty of care; that duty was breached; the breach of duty caused injuries; and the injuries led to damages for the patient. This establishes negligence. A skilled lawyer should establish this sequence of events in their opening statement and then prove it with evidence and testimony. There are basic safety rules that medical caregivers must follow and it is the job of the malpractice attorney to explain how they violated those rules. Experts and witnesses can also testify before the jury. During the course of a medical malpractice trial, the two sides are still allowed to come to a settlement if one side believes they are likely to lose.

Difficulties with Malpractice Trials

Medical malpractice cases can sometimes be more difficult than other personal injury cases. It is common for jurors to give medical providers the benefit of the doubt because of their status and experience, which is a danger that attorneys must account for. These cases also tend to be expensive, with a law firm that agrees to take on a case frequently investing up to $150,000 of their own money prosecute.

Plaintiffs might have concerns that some sensitive medical information could come out over the course of the trial. Generally, the physician-patient confidentiality privilege (also known as HIPAA) is waived for the conditions being discussed at trial, although unrelated conditions must still be kept confidential.

How Long Do Malpractices Cases Last?

Generally speaking, a malpractice case will last about two years from the date of filing. This is often due to the court’s schedule and the need for various written discoveries and depositions to be taken. If multiple defendants are involved it can be difficult to coordinate schedules with the doctors, lawyers, and experts, which might extend the case even longer.

Reach Out to an Attorney if You Are Seeking a Medical Malpractice Trial

There are always risks to arguing a case before a jury. However, if the defense refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, a court battle might be the only option. If you are looking to recover damages from a hospital error, you do not have to carry that burden alone. An attorney could explain the aspects of medical malpractice trials and prepare you for what to expect in that situation. Call Tittle & Perlmuter now for a free consultation and to learn if you might have a case.