If you are interested in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, then you probably have some familiarity with how the process works. However, you might not be aware that many states have dramatically different laws about how such lawsuits can be designed. Here are some examples of some such legal categories:
Statute of Limitations
Many states have specific requirements for when you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. For most states, you need to file within 2-3 years, but some states require that you file as soon as 1 year or as late as 5 years.
At this point, you might be wondering when those years start. Does the clock start ticking as soon as the damage was done? What about injuries that weren't discovered until much later?
This is where things can get fairly specific. As the link above demonstrates, every state has pretty different laws, so you'll want to check to see exactly how your state will handle your case. Additionally, you might want to talk to a lawyer to figure out which category your case actually falls into.
One of your biggest concerns will likely be how much compensation you can get. Again, many states disagree with one another on how much damages should be capped at. 17 states and the District of Columbia have no caps whatsoever, which means that you ask for as much money as you like. Of the remaining 33 states, the damage caps tend to be below $1,000,000, but there are some common situations where the cap may be higher.
For instance, some states allow the damage cap to be based on the size of the compensatory damages. In New Jersey, punitive damages may be up to 5x the size of the compensatory damages.
Some states also have caps that only apply to extremely specific situations, such as Oregon, where the only legal cap is currently placed on cases of wrongful death.
Joint and Several Liability
Many states also abide by a system known as joint and several liability, where plaintiffs may sue multiple parties that were involved in the medical malpractice. Several liability refers to situations where each sued party may be responsible for a share of damages that is proportional to their responsibility in the injury.
Every state (except California) supports several liability, while California exclusively allows a unique version of joint liability. Of those 49 states, there is a somewhat even split between four categories: joint and several liability, modified joint and several liability, several liability, and modified several liability.