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State of New York Explores Ways to Expedite Medical Malpractice Cases

There are more medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the state ofNew York than any other state in the country. This creates a backlog of cases. In some instances, it will take years for the case to go to trial.

New York also leads the country in the amount paid in claims. On average, a medical malpractice claim in the state paid more than $454,000, compared with the national average of $334,000.

The view of the court is that moving cases through the courts more quickly will be a winning proposition for all parties concerned. For the courts, it will reduce the backlog of cases. The reputation of the defendant will most likely suffer some damage with having a pending malpractice lawsuit, but moving the case through limits that damage. For the plaintiff, speeding up the process eliminates the worry of whether they will receive compensation for lost wages, bills and pain and suffering.

The court’s push to settle

For the most part, the state is placing emphasis on settling during the pretrial stages of the case. Several options are being explored, all involving an emphasis on settling before litigation. For obvious reasons, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation has pushed for early settlement of cases for years. They would like to see a judge-directed approach implemented where an experienced judge works with the plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys to effect a settlement as early as possible in the pretrial stages. The organization has indicated that it can result in savings both from reduced litigation costs and from lower settlement amounts.

What this means for defendants

As the emphasis is placed on settling in pre-trial stages by the courts and influential lobbies for hospitals and doctors, hiring an experienced medical malpractice attorney in New York will be even more important. Experienced attorneys will be working to limit the liability of hospitals and doctors; you should have one as equally experienced working to help you get the compensation you deserve. Negotiation skills and the ability to obtain the most favorable outcome during pretrial stages will become more important.

Hiring a malpractice attorney

If you’re the victim of medical malpractice, there is one thing you should know up front: Never sign anything presented by the doctor, the hospital or their attorneys, even if they’re offering what appears to be a fair settlement. They are operating in their own interests to make you and your case go away. Although their offer may look like a good settlement, there are issues to consider that a malpractice attorney will advise you about while guarding your interests. Any settlement agreement that you sign could preclude you from additional compensation down the road.

Your chances of a favorable outcome are improved by hiring a good malpractice attorney. Medical malpractice is a specialized field and the cases are complicated and risky, which means they’re also expensive. Invest the time in finding a good lawyer in your area who specializes in medical malpractice.

Researching malpractice attorneys

If you think you need to hire a malpractice attorney, start with some basic research.

  • Biographical information for the lawyers and their law firms. The Internet is a great place to start. Look at their websites to determine if they specialize in medical malpractice and if they defend the doctor or hospital or if they are plaintiff’s attorneys.
  • Use search engines to scour the Internet. A Google search will turn up articles the lawyer has written and a wealth of information about their cases.
  • If you already have a relationship with an attorney who practices other areas, ask for a reference. Lawyers know other lawyers.
  • Contact your state bar association or visit their Web site to find out if the lawyer is in good standing
  • Skim through your telephone directory to see if the firm advertises. But remember not to base your decision upon advertising.
  • Ask for references. If you can, talk to people who can tell you about lawyer’s performance. Be aware that privacy concerns may prevent the lawyer from sharing names of clients.
  • Check your local newspaper’s archives for any articles about court cases and settlements. You’ll probably be able to find the names of clients there.

If you’re presented with an initial settlement offer, before you sign anything, you need to know what you’re signing. They are offering you a settlement for a reason. Make sure you have an experienced malpractice attorney in your corner.