If a medical professional causes an individual harm, they could be held liable for damages. In the State of Florida, the ultimate decision regarding whether to accept or reject a settlement offer, which will often lead to trial, rests with the client.
However, it is usually best for the injured claimant to have an informed consultation with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer regarding the amount of a settlement offer compared against the likelihood of succeeding at trial and all those related risks. Even though the decision finally rests with the client, it is important that both parties objectively and truthfully participate in a conference regarding whether to accept or reject a fair and reasonable settlement offer.
Speak to an experienced lawyer to learn about the nuances of settling a medical malpractice claim in St. Petersburg.
The Settlement Process
The settlement process in St. Petersburg begins in a few different stages. The first stage for the parties to have an opportunity to discuss settlement typically occurs at the end of the pre-suit medical malpractice. If the case cannot be settled during pre-suit, then typically a lawsuit will be filed, and initial discovery will take place.
In some jurisdictions in Florida, prior to receiving a trial date, the court will refer the parties to a pre-trial mediation. In mediation, there is often a significant opportunity for the parties to discuss the respective merits of the case and make and receive settlement offers.
If the case does not settle at mediation in Florida, there is a statute that includes a pre-trial settlement conference as the last-ditch effort to try to settle the case. If all those opportunities to settle do not garner a settlement between the parties, the case typically proceeds to trial. Additionally, if a medical malpractice claim is successful at trial, there can often be post-trial opportunities to settle as well.
Types of Settlement Options
When settling a medical malpractice claim in St. Petersburg, there are typically two options available to the plaintiff regarding the net settlement proceeds. Many claimants elect to accept all their net settlement. The net settlement is the amount that goes to the client, net settlement proceeds in cash so that the funds can be available as needed in the future.
However, another alternative to a cash settlement is something called a structured settlement, where the funds are provided to a life insurance company or annuity company to invest and have those funds paid out over time with an additional rate of return.
Often, after the case is settled and a closing statement is signed by the client, the case-related legal and medical expenses will be satisfied at that time.
Types of Recoverable Damages
In Florida, the amount of a settlement is based upon the nature and extent of legal damages suffered by the medical malpractice client. There are two general categories of recoverable damages in medical malpractice cases. Those categories are called economic damages and non-economic damages. The damages could include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and inconvenience
The total damages, based upon the severity of the injury and its effects on the client, will serve as the basis for the value of the claim or case. Settlement offers will and should be based upon those damages.
Rejecting a Settlement Offer
The primary reason that an injured claimant would reject a settlement offer is because the offer is insufficient and does not account for all of their damages. It is important that the claimant discuss the merits of that offer against the facts of the case. Each case will have its unique strengths and weaknesses, and those specific details should be fully evaluated before accepting or rejecting any settlement offer.
In Florida, if the injured party rejects a reasonable offer and fails to do better than that offer at trial, there can be some penalties attached to the decision not to accept the offer prior to trial.
How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Could Help
The physicians in facilities who may be responsible for committing medical malpractice, as well as their insurance carriers, will typically take a potential case more seriously when it is brought by a well-practiced attorney on behalf of the injured claimant. A knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer could conduct a thorough investigation by collecting evidence such as relevant medical records and documentation to help prove their case. The lawyer could present the case and help the injured claimant seek compensation for their injuries and damages.
Speak to an experienced attorney to learn about your options for settling a medical malpractice claim in St. Petersburg.