Nobody wants to be sued. And if you’re a medical professional, you know that mere allegations of wrongdoing can negatively impact your reputation and your practice. That means a medical malpractice claim made against you can have long-lasting implications for your career and your financial well-being.
But as you navigate such a case, you might be left wondering if it’s worth it to take your case to trial. After all, there’s a lot at stake, and resolving your case through negotiation may be one way to reduce publicity, costs and stress. But you also don’t want to pay a former patient if you can avoid doing so. With that in mind, how do you go about deciding the best course of action in your case?
Determining whether to settle a medical malpractice case
Before you make a decision on how to move forward with your case, you need to answer several questions. Among them are each of the following:
- How effectively you can challenge the plaintiff’s expert? As you head into your case and conduct discovery, you’re going to find out whom the plaintiff intends to call as witnesses. Among them is going to be one or more experts. You need to carefully analyze their qualifications and depose them to learn how they’ll testify. Then, you can develop a strategy to attack that witness’s credibility or minimize the impact of his or her testimony. Your ability to effectively do so under the circumstances will say a lot about whether you should settle your case.
- How likely is the plaintiff to prove causation? Remember, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that his or her injuries were caused by malpractice. Some patients have preexisting conditions that worsen after a medical procedure. This isn’t necessarily indicative of causation. So, be sure to fully analyze the injuries in question in light of the alleged negligent actions to see if they line up. If it’s questionable, you might be in a stronger position to litigate your case.
- Can you minimize claimed damages? Settlement negotiations require a balancing act. You want to avoid paying damages, but you also want to minimize your risk as much as possible. This typically means that you’re going to have to look at the plaintiff’s claimed damages and how aggressively you can minimize them. If you can effectively show that the plaintiff is exaggerating medical expenses or non-economic damages, then you might be able to obtain a better resolution by taking your case to trial. If the plaintiff’s evidence of his or her damages is strong, though, then settlement might be right for you.
These are just three factors that you need to take into consideration. There may be other issues that affect your decision, such as how prolonged litigation affects your reputation and your business. Therefore, there’s no cookie-cutter approach here. Instead, an analysis of your unique circumstances should be conducted to ensure that you’re making the decision that’s right for you.
There’s too much at stake to take a haphazard approach
A bad outcome in a medical malpractice lawsuit can cause extensive harm to nearly every aspect of your life. Your career might be damaged, your reputation tarnished, and your financial stability jeopardized. Don’t let that happen to you by putting forth a less-than desirable defense. Instead, work closely with a legal team that is known for aggressively defending people like you so that you can protect your interests and ensure that you’re maximizing your chances of succeeding in your case.