A typical birth injury case will take between eighteen months and two years from the time the lawsuit is filed until the case settles or goes to trial. This time varies, depending on a number of things, including the county where the suit is filed, the number of issues involved, and the number of experts involved. Over time, medical records and witnesses can disappear and peoples’ memories of what happened fades. Also, every state limits the time to file a lawsuit after an injury, so it’s better to contact a birth injury attorney as soon as possible to get the process started and avoid delays.
The first step in the process is gathering the medical records and consulting with medical specialists and other experts. If injuries and negligence are apparent then a notice of claim is filed. The exact procedure for filing a claim varies from state to state. Once a claim is filed, the defendants answer the claim or “complaint” and the case is now “in suit,” which means active litigation has begun. The suit continues with the longest part of the lawsuit process called “discovery.” This is where both sides exchange documents, answer written questionnaires (“interrogatories”) and oral questions (“depositions”). Depending on state statutes, mediation may occur in order to try and settle the case. If mediation does not resolve the case, a pretrial settlement hearing is held. If the case doesn’t resolve, trial is scheduled. The vast majority of cases do not go to trial.