In most medical malpractice cases filed in Ohio, a lawsuit must be filed before the case can be resolved. While there are variations among Ohio’s 88 county courts, most courts will schedule a trial date within one to two years of the date on which the lawsuit is filed. For this reason, a good malpractice attorney will proceed with the goal of completing his/her investigation as promptly as possible in order to file suit as soon as is feasible in meritorious cases. When cases are resolved through settlement, the settlement usually takes place close to the trial date. If the case cannot be settled, it will be resolved through the trial itself. Therefore, the earlier that we file suit on your behalf, the earlier a trial date will be set which will drive resolution of the claim.
Surprisingly, your involvement during the case is minimal. We will spend whatever time it takes at the beginning of our relationship to gather facts from you that are necessary for us to conduct our investigation. If we determine that the case is meritorious and thereafter file a lawsuit on your behalf, an important part of the litigation involves discovery. Discovery is the process, set forth by established court rules, in which attorneys learn important facts and arguments that are relevant to the case. In early discovery, your attorneys will send written questions, called interrogatories, and requests for documents to the opposing party. In return, the opposing party’s attorneys will send similar written discovery requests to us. We will need your assistance in responding to these requests for information from the defense.
Once the parties have exchanged written discovery responses, depositions will take place. A deposition is a question-and-answer session wherein the opposing party’s attorneys question various parties and witnesses about facts relevant to the case. You will typically be asked to sit for a deposition. We meet with all of our clients in advance of these depositions in order to familiarize them with the process, prepare them for the types of questions that they may be asked and to answer any questions that they have regarding the deposition process.
Finally, you will be involved in the resolution of the case, whether through settlement or trial. Settlements typically occur during the course of mediation, which is a formalized settlement conference. You will need to be present during the course of mediation. Mediations usually last about one day, but can take several days. If the case is not resolved by settlement at mediation, the case proceeds to trial. The length of the trial will vary depending on the nature of the case and the court’s scheduling conflicts. Most cases can be tried in one to two weeks. You will be required to be present during each day of the trial, except in cases where the client is excused due to age, infirmity or disability.