There are different elements of medical malpractice that need to be taken into account during the process of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some factors may mitigate a medical malpractice lawsuit. Many claims need to be filed within the statute of limitations, within a certain time period, when medical malpractice occurred. If filed after the statue of limitations the medical malpractice lawsuit would not be found valid and the case would be dismissed off the docket.
The statute of limitations in some cases force people to make a decision rather quickly. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be very expensive both for the personal filing the claim and the medical professional being sued. In some cases medical malpractice lawsuits can be drawn out over a long course of time so the initial costs of filing a lawsuit do not reflect what could be the overall cost of the lawsuit. This is especially true when a patient brings a lawsuit against a hospital or large medical company, for example a pharmaceutical company. In these cases the cards are stacked against the patient.
Both large hospitals and large pharmaceutical companies, which indeed can have medical malpractice suits filed against them for misrepresenting their medication, have teams of malpractice lawyers. Some of these lawyers are on retainer working for a law firm while in other cases the lawyers may be in-house attorneys already on the payroll of either the hospital or the pharmaceutical company. Therefore, it is usually in the best interest for these large entities to convey to the patient that they will drag any lawsuit out over the course of time. The patient has limited options in choosing an attorney.
Many medical malpractice lawyers charge steep fees for their services since it is considered a niche market within the legal profession. There can be initial fees, hourly fees afterwards, and payment out of the settlement if the medical malpractice case is one. Do to the statue of limitations this forces a patient to make a quick decision, sometimes when they are not completely informed of the success of the lawsuit or the cost in total.
This is one reason that some patients, while they know they can eventually win the lawsuit, opt not to make a claim in court because the financial burden that will be incurred trying to win a settlement. In some cases the settlement does not even cover the complete legal fees that go along with a medical malpractice case, creating a lose-lose scenario for the patient. However, the statue of limitations varies from state to state as there are no uniform federal guidelines concerning medical malpractice laws. Some states force the decision on the patient rather quickly, in a manner this reduces the amount of medical malpractice cases in the hopes of driving down medical costs as a whole in a given state.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are expensive and the statute of limitations provides an added constraint on those that are looking to file a claim. While the statute of limitations is necessary so a patient does not bring a claim ten years down the road because of an operation that was performed before, they must decide whether or not, both morally and financially, if a medical malpractice lawsuit is in their best interest.