Once the formal medical malpractice claim has been filed, the parties to the claim have completed their discovery requests and responses, and any pre-trial motions are heard and decided by the judge or the head of the other forum deciding the case, the medical malpractice case is ready for trial or for a hearing on the merits of the claims and the defenses to the claims. The claimant(s) will present their claims first by providing testimony from factual and expert witnesses and present other evidence such as documents and records in support of the claims. The defendant health care provider(s) will then provide testimony and other evidence in support of defense(s) to the claims. Many times the lawyers for the parties will argue a point of law with regard to the admissibility of certain testimony and other evidence and the judge or the head of the forum hearing the case will have to make decisions with regard to the objections.
Sometimes the experts hired by the parties will provide testimony by way of a videotaped deposition to be played at trial instead of live testimony because the experts may be from out-of-state, their charges for expert testimony are often very high, and it is often difficult to know the day and hour that the experts will be called to testify during the trial or hearing because of the court’s scheduling (the trial or hearing may not start on the day or at the time that it is scheduled) and how long the testimony of witnesses called before the experts will take.
If the case is tried before a jury, it may take many hours or even days for the jurors to be selected and placed on the jury. There may be times during the trial when the jury will be asked to leave the courtroom while the judge hears from the parties’ lawyers regarding unanticipated legal issues (during the trial there may be times when the parties’ attorneys may be required to approach the judge to discuss legal matters outside of the jury’s hearing regarding matters that the law requires that the jury not hear). The jury will also be given breaks during the day to have lunch and to use the bathroom. Sometimes there may be delays because one or more jurors may be late arriving in the morning or after lunch. One or more alternate jurors will probably be selected so that the case can continue to proceed in the event that an unforeseen circumstance may require that one or more of the primary jurors will have to be replaced during the trial.
Once the introduction of testimony and evidence on behalf of the parties is completed, the jury (if the case is heard before a jury) will be given instructions by the trial judge about how to decide the case. The parties’ attorneys will have the opportunity to state to the jury their arguments on behalf of their clients why the jury or the other trier of facts should find in favor of their client(s). The claimant’s lawyer usually goes first followed by the defendant health care providers’ lawyers. The claimant’s lawyer is then given the opportunity to argue in rebuttal to what the defendants’ lawyer argued. After the jury hears the arguments, it will be moved to another room to discuss and decide the case in privacy, which may take hours, days, or weeks. Once the jury makes it’s decision, the jury will enter the courtroom and be asked by the trial judge for its decision, which is written on a verdict sheet that the judge provided to the jury just before it began its deliberations. The jury or the judge will announce the jury’s decision to the parties and their attorneys. The jury is then discharged (allowed to leave the courtroom because their job is done and the case is over).
The jury trial in your case may be handled in a different way due to differences in procedures in different states and even within different counties within the same state.
Our next blog will discuss what happens after the jury or other forum decides your medical malpractice case in your favor.
If you are the victim of medical malpractice errors, finding a medical malpractice lawyer near you is important. Visit our website to be connected to medical malpractice lawyers in your area who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim or call us toll free at 800-295-3959. When it comes to medical malpractice claims, turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.