Medical Malpractice Cases, How Long does it Take to Settle a Malpractice Lawsuit?


Medical malpractice lawsuits can be a lengthy process. The more complex the case is, the longer it will take. Here’s an overview of the process and how long each phase might be.

In this malpractice guide article we will outline what is involved in a malpractice lawsuit as well as how long it may take for you to receive a settlement.


In this phase, malpractice lawyers and defense attorneys begin the process of gathering information and documentation, some of which becomes evidence in the case. Interviews and depositions of potential witnesses are taken during this time.

The malpractice lawyers are building their case during this time, formulating a strategy for demonstrating that medical or dental malpractice occurred. This phase can take 2-6 months or more.

Evaluation by Expert Witnesses

Expert medical witnesses are used by both sides in malpractice lawsuits. They are neutral third party experts, usually physicians, who understand what should be done in a given medical circumstance.

They help determine whether or not correct procedures and practices were followed. This helps to establish whether or not negligence – medical malpractice – was committed. Both sides in a lawsuit often have their own expert witnesses. Finding witnesses, setting up interviews and completing them can take 1-3 months or more.

Settling or Going to Trial

If it appears that a good case can be made for medical malpractice, the doctor or hospital involved in the suit, and representatives from the malpractice insurance companies, will offer a settlement.

If the person who filed the lawsuit is open to a settlement, then negotiating the final amount can be relatively quick, perhaps a few weeks to a few months.

If a settlement is not offered, or if an acceptable amount cannot be negotiated, then the case will be taken to trial.

Malpractice Lawsuit Trials

When a case goes to trial, it can take another 3-6 months or longer. While waiting for the trial, negotiations often continue on a settlement. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a large malpractice settlement to be offered immediately before the trial – sometimes in the court room before opening arguments – in order to avoid the expense of a trial.

If a trial occurs, it will take 1-3 weeks typically, depending on the complexity of the case.

If you are contemplating a medical malpractice lawsuit, expect the process to take at least 3-6 months if it is relatively simple and 12-18 months or longer if it is complex.