If you have been injured by a doctor or a hospital and have talked with a lawyer, you know that medical malpractice cases are expensive to pursue. Why? There are multiple reasons, but three of the main reasons are experts, discovery, and trial.
In a medical malpractice case, the injured patient must show, among other things, what the health care provider did, why it was wrong, how it caused the patients injuries, and the damages that the patient suffered as a result. Because we are not medical providers, we, ourselves, cannot explain or answer the what, why, how, and damage questions. Rather, experts are required to answer the questions.
Medical experts answer the medical questions. Economic experts answer the damages questions when the injuries are so severe that they impact the patients future, such as future medical care and future loss income.
In most medical malpractice cases, local health care providers, such as doctors, will not testify against other local health care providers. Therefore, expert health care providers from other areas of the country must be brought in to either prove or disprove a case.
Similarly, there are relatively few economic experts that can answer the damages questions. So, they to, generally have to be brought in from other areas of the country.
Experts charge large fees and must be reimbursed for their travel costs.
One phase of a medical malpractice case is referred to as discovery. This is the phase where both sides are trying to discover what are the arguments of the other side. In other words, one side is trying to find out why the injured patient is saying that the medical provider injured the patient. The other side is trying to find out why the medical provider is saying that he/she didn’t injure the patient.
Discovery generally starts with interrogatories which are written questions that the other side has to answer. These questions in a medical malpractice case are normally much more detailed and complicated, and there are a lot more questions than the questions in a standard civil suit. The questions require a lot more time and legal expertise to prepare and answer.
Another part of discovery is called depositions which is where lawyers ask witnesses questions under oath. Usually, there is just a court reporter writing down verbatim whatever is said. With medical malpractice cases, depositions are usually videoed so that they may be used in trial. The videoing costs more.
The actual trial in a medical malpractice case will usually cost more than a standard civil trial cost. First, a malpractice trial may take a week (5 days) whereas a standard car accident trial may take one day. Second, in a malpractice trial, there a generally multiple experts that will testify (and most of them are from out of the area). In a standard car accident car, there is only one or two experts to testify (and they are normally from the local area). Third, a malpractice trial may involve a good bit of technical assistance to show videos and display other evidence.
The above is general information only. If you have any questions whatsoever, talk with a lawyer licensed in your state.