No, your medical malpractice case will NOT settle fast

When starting a New York medical malpractice case many folks invariably ask, “How long will it take?” I’d love to give a good answer about how fast the courts move, or how quickly insurance companies offer a quick settlements, but that’s not the way it works.

It will take years. Even if a surgical team leaves a clamp or sponge inside you, the defendants are unlikely to even discuss a settlement until the time of jury selection. The reasons are not terribly complex, and are related in part to the fact that the defendants’ insurance companies will hire the defense lawyers and plot the strategy:

  • If the insurance companies make your life miserable — even on slam dunk cases of retained surgical equipment as shown in the link above — then attorneys won’t take smaller suits because it isn’t worth the immense amount of time and money needed, thereby decreasing the overall number of malpractice cases;
  • Defense lawyers bill by the hour and have no incentive to reach a quick disposition; and
  • If you get a judgment in your favor in New York, then interest on the money starts to run from the time of the judgment, not from the time of the incident. Thus, the insurance companies continue to hold and use the money for investments in the interim.

So there it is, short and not-so-sweet. Nothing is likely to happen fast.

And because of this, any medical malpractice case that is taken must be prosecuted and prepared with the intent to take a verdict. It would be foolish to hope for a settlement offer that may never come.

Links to this post:

How a personal injury lawyer views the medical malpractice system
How a personal injury lawyer views the medical malpractice system. Personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz responds to my recent USA Today piece on fixing the medical malpractice system. by Eric Turkewitz. In a USA Today op-ed,
posted by Kevin @ November 18, 2009 2:00 PM

medical malpractice – vetting the case
cross-posted from the new york personal injury law blog. about 95-98% of medical malpractice inquiries to my office are rejected. having previously discussed medical malpractice law and the economics of bringing such an action,

posted by Eric Turkewitz @ May 22, 2007 5:33 PM

medical malpractice economics
cross-posted from new york personal injury law blog. two weeks ago i wrote medical malpractice – a primer, directed toward members of the medical community due to a recurring theme i saw on medical blogs: the idea that such suits are

posted by Eric Turkewitz @ April 26, 2007 3:14 PM

medical malpractice — a primer
i’ve been reading a lot of medical blogs lately, and medical professionals have been reading mine. and as many doctors have ranted about attorneys (such as those in the comments at kevin, md and flea) i’ve noticed a lack of some basic

posted by Eric Turkewitz @ April 13, 2007 10:34 AM


2 Responses Leave a comment

  • Ron Miller 2008.3.21 at 15:46 | Quote

    I hate to offer a less conspiratorial theory – because you got a good Oliver Stone thing going there, Eric – but I would also include that fact that med mal cases tend to require a little more factual exploration to figure out the likelihood of liability and the extent of the injures. We tend to file suit in almost any serious case because until discovery is done, both parties tend to want to pay (or receive) the best case scenario for them.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2008.3.21 at 16:01 | Quote

    Well, that doesn’t explain the refusal to settle (or even to ask for a demand) on cases where foreign objects were left behind.

    In New York, most everything gets litigated. I don’t even bother with demand letters since that just wastes time.

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