Medical Malpractice Trials
Medical malpractice cases are notorious for taking many years from submission of lawsuit to conclusion. The length of time of the discovery is one reason. The other reason is that there is a shortage of judges to hear all of the cases that are filed. As in many other civil trials, such cases are decided by a twelve-person jury made up of people chosen by both parties. The jury has the responsibility for deciding whether the medical professional or professionals on trial administered care that was below the standard that would have been provided by other medical professionals in similar situations and that this substandard care led to the harm or injury suffered by the plaintiff.
During the trial, either side can call witnesses to testify to their side of the case. This is done in order to present to the jury a persuasive argument that could persuade them to decide in their favor. Evidence may also be presented in the form of photographs, records, correspondences and other documents.
If a jury decides that a medical professional did demonstrate negligence in the care of the plaintiff, the jury will then determine the extent of the damages that the plaintiff is owed. There are many reasons a plaintiff may be owed damages. Damages can be awarded for medical expenses the plaintiff incurred as a result of the negligent care, either to treat or cure the condition or injury they sustained. They can also be awarded for pain and suffering, as an acknowledgement of the distress the negligent care caused the plaintiff. Damages are awarded for financial losses the patient has suffered as well as a result of their needing additional and sometimes extensive treatment for their injuries, or as a result of lost income from work if their injuries prevented them from working. Damages may even be awarded for the psychological trauma the patient may have experienced. In cases in which the patient died as a result of the substandard care, damages can be awarded to the members of the patient’s family for the psychological trauma suffered by this turn of events.
Once the trial begins, it can go on for several weeks, depending on how many witnesses are introduced on behalf of either the plaintiff or the defendant. The medical professional on trial is usually requested to remain for the length of the trial.