Florida medical malpractice lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD discusses the fourth step in a medical malpractice case – the lawsuit.
We have discussed the required steps that must be completed before a Florida medical malpractice case is filed in court. The first three steps included the investigation, notice of intent, and presuit informal discovery period. If you and your lawyer have decided to file a lawsuit, the defendant(s) have either denied your presuit claim or made an unacceptable offer to settle.
The lawsuit will begin with the filing of the complaint in the Circuit Court in the county in which the medical care occurred. For instance, if the medical care happened at Florida Hospital Waterman, the case will be filed in Lake County. On the other hand, if the malpractice occurred in Fort Pierce, the complaint will be filed in St. Lucie County. Once the complaint is filed with the court and served on the healthcare provider defendants – the discovery phase of the case will begin.
Discovery is the process whereby the parties will again exchange information. It is a much more formal process than what occurred during the 90-day presuit period. Discovery may consist of written questions that need to be answered under oath – called interrogatories. The parties may also issue subpoenas to differently entities to get medical, employment, personnel, insurance or any other information that may not have been received during the presuit process.
Probably one of the most important aspects of the discovery process will be depositions. A deposition is an oral statement under oath. The parties, fact witnesses and expert witnesses will be deposed throughout the course of litigation.
At some point in time before trial, the parties will be required to go to mediation. Under certain circumstances the judge may allow the parties to dispense with mediation but this is usually not the case. During mediation, the parties and their lawyers will get together with an uninterested third party (the mediator) to discuss possible resolution of the case. The mediation process is confidential and any concessions made at mediation by either side cannot be repeated to the judge or jury if the case goes to trial.
If the parties are not able to reach an amicable resolution, the case will have to go to trial. The length of trial is depends on the complexity of the issues in the case, the number of witnesses, and the court's availability. Trial is a very trying process, no pun intended, and should be a last resort for the parties. On the last day of the trial, the jury will render a verdict.
Many times the end of a trial may not be the end of a Florida medical malpractice case. I will discuss Step Five, the post-trial period, in my next blog installment.
As you can see, the lawsuit process in a Florida medical malpractice case is involved and it can be uncertain, which is one of the reason that a number of cases settle sometime before trial. If you have any questions about a potential Florida medical malpractice claim, contact Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD at (352) 267-9168. Bridging Medicine & Law!