While the Charleston medical malpractice trial process may seem daunting at first, know that you do not have to face it alone. With the help of a dedicated injury attorney on your side, you can come to court prepared to tell your story armed with knowledge about what to expect from the defendant’s lawyer. Read on to learn more about the different steps involved in the Charleston medical malpractice trial process, as well as the ways a weathered lawyer could offer you their assistance today.
How Does the Litigation Proceed in a Medical Malpractice Case?
The Charleston medical malpractice trial process begins with the filing of the Summons and Complaint, along with the Affidavit of the third-party professional witness. This document alleges malpractice has been committed and harm has been caused as a result of that malpractice to the plaintiff. At that point, the defense files an Answer to the Complaint, denying the allegations with regard to medical malpractice. From there, the procedure known as discovery begins.
Written discovery primarily involves Interrogatories, which are written questions exchanged between lawyers which must be answered. The Request for Production of Documents is a discovery that requests for documents and physical items to be produced. After examining the evidence, depositions of both lay witnesses and professional witnesses ensue.
Burden of Proof
Both sides give an opening statement, but the plaintiff goes first because they possess the burden of proof in a medical malpractice case. Here, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. This is often explained as imagining Lady Justice and the scales that she holds. If the plaintiff is able to tip the scales in their favor by even a small amount, then the plaintiff has met their burden of proof. However, if the scales tip toward the defense or do not move at all, then the plaintiff has not met their burden of proof. In comparison, it is a much lighter burden of proof than criminal cases.
Order of Presentation
The plaintiff presents their case first, for the same reason that the plaintiff presents an opening statement first. After the plaintiff’s opening statement, the defense lawyer gets to make an opening statement. Then the plaintiff begins presenting evidence in their case in the form of witnesses and documents presented by those witnesses.
At the close of the plaintiff’s case, there is a certain motion that the defense can and will always make. At that point, the plaintiff has rested and then the defense presents their case. Both sides present a closing argument, but the plaintiff goes first and the defense goes second. A plaintiff can reserve a very small amount of time to rebut the defense’s closing argument.
There is a distinction between statements and arguments. In an opening statement, the lawyer only lays out what they think the evidence will show, but cannot make their argument as to why that individual should win. However, in closing arguments, an individual is allowed to make arguments as to why their evidence is stronger than the defense’s evidence in the Charleston medical malpractice trial process.
The Effect of Multiple Defendants
When there are multiple defendants involved, the Charleston medical malpractice trial process proceeds more or less the same way as it would if there was only one defendant. In these situations, there are more lawyers and more depositions during discovery and also at trial. It also affects the allocation of liability.
The jury can and will be given the opportunity to assign percentages of liability between multiple defendants. Having multiple defendants can influence the outcome of the case in many ways. One way is it makes it more confusing for the jury. It is the job of the defense lawyers to muddy the waters and make things as confusing as possible, while it is the job of the plaintiff’s professional injury attorney to make the situation clear.
If you require legal representation throughout the Charleston medical malpractice trial process, consider reaching out to a determined medical malpractice lawyer from Howell and Christmas today to schedule your initial consultation.