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What happens in a medical negligence lawsuit against a hospital?

If you believe you have been injured by the negligent acts of a hospital employee in New York, you may wonder how a lawsuit against the hospital might proceed. While every case is different, your case is likely to follow the same guidelines that govern other medical malpractice matters in the state.

To begin your case, you or your attorney must file a summons and complaint with the court and properly serve the hospital with the documents within the statute of limitations. The New York State Unified Court System states that this time limit is two and a half years from the date you were injured due to the malpractice or from the date you stopped receiving continuous treatment from the negligent party you are going to sue.

After the hospital has answered your complaint and by doing so, indicated that they will be opposing your claims, the evidence-gathering stage of your case will begin. This is known as discovery. Both you and the hospital will be responsible for answering written questions about the circumstances of the case and your injuries, providing each party with documents that substantiate your respective positions, and holding depositions in which you and others formally testify about your experiences surrounding the matter.  

Although the individual elements of the discovery process are largely optional, your case will have a greater chance at success if you can thoroughly prove your claim through the supporting evidence this stage provides. If you fail to disclose important documents, such as medical records or expert reports, the judge overseeing your case may not allow you to use them to support your claims at the time of your trial.

During and following discovery, you may receive offers to settle your case. If you accept one of these offers, you may be required to sign a settlement agreement and this will conclude your matter. If you choose not to accept any offers and the judge believes your case continues to have merit, it will proceed to trial. Your trial may last from one day to several weeks. After the jury or judge reaches a verdict, you can choose to accept the decision, or you may continue on and begin the appeals process. This information should be used only for educational purposes, not as legal advice.

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