Understanding the settlement process in medical malpractice cases

Miami residents who are suffering from the effects of medical malpractice may be interested in information on one aspect of the legal process. Due to Florida’s civil procedure laws, certain attempts at settlement must be made before the case can go to a trial.

No matter how strong a medical malpractice case may be, Florida law requires that all litigants submit to a mandatory mediation process prior to a trial. First, the defendant is offered the chance to enter into binding arbitration. In medical malpractice arbitration, fault is admitted, and the only issue to be decided is the amount of damages to be paid. Rather than a judge, an arbitrator will decide on the issue. This process takes less time and costs less than a full trial on the merits of the case.

If the defendant does not submit to arbitration, the parties must attend an in-person mediation within 120 days after the date that the case is initially filed. The parties may extend this 120-day period, however, if they both agree. In addition to this mediation, a settlement conference must be held at least three weeks before the scheduled start of the trial. The attorneys for both sides must meet in an attempt to settle the case before the trial begins. If the court has good cause to do so, however, they may excuse this requirement.

Throughout a medical malpractice situation, an attorney may be very helpful. This is true whether the issue is a fatal medical error or a negligent misdiagnosis that lead to a worsened condition. The attorney may assist the injured party in understanding the process, including this mandatory mediation. The attorney may also be helpful in representing this party in mediation, arbitration or during the trial.