After months and months of hard work and stress and hope and fear, the moment of truth is finally here. Both sides have rested their case in regards to your medical malpractice claim. All that’s left is the decision… and you win!
Thank goodness. Now it’s all over. You can finally use the compensation you receive to start getting your life back on track. Right? Not quite.
As Nancy Plummer learned the hard way, just because a verdict is given doesn’t necessarily mean that a court case is completely settled.
The Ongoing Tragedy of William Plummer
In 2013, Mrs. Plummer sued Dr. Annabel Torres and her insurance company, The Doctors’ Company, over the death of her husband William two years prior. In the suit, she alleged that Torres improperly diagnosed the cause of her husband’s earache, didn’t give him a proper exam, neglected to send him to an emergency room or specialist, and that she prescribed him a Z-pak – despite the fact that antibiotics had already failed to work. He later died of meningitis in an emergency room.
Mrs. Plummer won her claim in 2015, but it was almost immediately appealed on the grounds that Torres and her lawyers didn’t get to go over some evidence that was used during the trial and that testimony was prejudicial. The appeal was only recently decided, and the doctor’s lawyers were able to overturn the initial decision.
What does this mean? Because the decision was not officially
reversed, everyone involved is going to have to go through a completely new trial.
Understanding Appeals and How to Make Them Work for You
Nancy Plummer probably isn’t a very big fan of appeals, and that’s understandable. No one wants to fight to get the compensation that they need and deserve only to seemingly have it snatched away – especially after it was already awarded to you. However, appeals themselves are neither good nor bad, and they are not to blame for Mrs. Plummer’s current situation.
In fact, if the initial decision had been against Mrs. Plummer, she and her lawyer may have been the ones appealing. The bottom line is that an appeal is something that both you and your attorney need to be prepared for – whether you want to overturn the initial decision or work to maintain it.
That means understanding the appeals process.
If you want to appeal…
Your attorney will have to file a Notice of Appeal. This must be done within 30 days of the date that the judge’s written order dismissing your original petition is filed with the clerk of the circuit court.
If you wish, you may also file a motion asking permission to file a brief or request oral argument. All motions or documents you file related to your appeal need to be mailed or delivered to the appellate court, with the exception of the Notice of Appeal itself.
If you want to uphold the initial decision…
Obviously, if you don’t want to appeal, you don’t have to worry about filing the Notice of Appeal. However, if the other side appeals, you may wish to request oral argument or file a brief. As described above, to do either of these things you will need to file a motion and then deliver or mail that motion to the appellate court.
After both sides have had a chance to file any motions or documents they believe the court should review, there’s not much else you can do. The appellate court will review the decision that the lower court made and come to their own ruling on the matter.
Other Ways a Personal Injury Lawyer Helps after a Case Is Decided
Let’s pretend there’s no appeal. Even if that doesn’t happen, you will still need your attorney’s help. Here’s what happens if the other side agrees to settle.
To begin with, both lawyers have to notify the court, so the court can issue an Order of Settlement. This document will require that all settlement papers be completed within a certain time frame. Depending on the court, this can be anywhere from 30 to 60 days.
One of these papers is The Release. The defendant’s lawyer must create this document, which lays out the terms of the settlement, but you will need your attorney to read over it and approve it before you sign. This may sound like pointless protocol, but it isn’t. Often, personal injury lawyers ask for changes to be made, and The Release can go through several drafts before you sign it.
After the terms are signed off on, you and your attorney will still need to deal with any liens against your lawsuit. Typically, this means that you have unpaid medical bills. Before you get any money from the settlement, the people you owe money to will need to be paid first.
Only after all of this is taken care of will you finally be able to sit back and wait for the check to come in. Interested in learning more about the personal injury claim process and whether or not you have a valid medical malpractice claim? Reach out to our office today.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.