If you're thinking of taking legal action over health problems caused by defective hernia mesh, you're probably wondering what to expect from the process. Like other kinds of civil cases involving personal injury, a hernia mesh lawsuit is likely to go through a number of distinct stages on the way to resolution.
There are certain kinds of injury cases that you can reasonably consider handling on your own, but a hernia mesh claim isn't one of them. Most of these cases involve significant harm to the patient ("damages"), complex medical and legal issues, and big corporate defendants who are able (and more than willing) to put up a fight. Let an experienced lawyer do the heavy lifting while you focus on feeling better. Learn more about why a lawyer is crucial in a hernia mesh case.
A hernia mesh lawsuit starts when you file certain documents with the court, and deliver ("serve") those papers on the hernia mesh manufacturer, health care provider, or other "defendant."
That usually means preparing a "complaint" (or "petition") in which you set out the legal and factual basis for your case—and in most states, it also means filing a "summons," which notifies the defendant of the lawsuit. (Learn more about how an injury lawsuit is filed and how the defendant responds to an injury lawsuit.)
Keep in mind that your lawsuit needs to be filed in line with your state's statutory time limits. Hernia mesh plaintiffs could face unique challenges when it comes to complying with this critical deadline, since health problems caused by failed hernia mesh don't always show up right away. Learn more about the statute of limitations and hernia mesh lawsuits.
Soon after the lawsuit is filed, the next biggest step in a hernia mesh case is the discovery phase. This is where both sides of the lawsuit (plaintiff and defendant) investigate the details of the case and learn as much as they can about one another's (and their own) arguments and defenses. Discovery tools utilized by both sides of a hernia mesh case include:
In conjunction with discovery (and often for some time after), the parties typically file certain motions with the court, in an effort to resolve certain issues and set the ground rules for a coming trial (or in an attempt to end the case altogether). These might include:
It's important to note that, while a hernia mesh lawsuit usually proceeds along a standard timeline, these kinds of cases can also be resolved via out-of-court settlement at any point. The parties might reach a settlement agreement on their own, after details of the case emerge and one or both sides see the proverbial writing on the wall. Or more formal (often court-ordered) attempts at resolution might also do the trick, including mediation and mandatory settlement conferences. Learn more about settlement value of a hernia mesh case.
In the rare instance where no settlement is reached, and the plaintiff's hernia mesh case has survived the pre-trial motion process, the lawsuit will go to trial. That means the plaintiff's attorney lays out every detail of the injured patient's case in front of a judge or jury, and the defendant gets a chance to refute that evidence and present its own. Witnesses are called to testify (including experts from both sides) and documents are introduced into evidence as both sides try to make their best case. Eventually the judge will announce findings as to liability (whether the defendant is at fault for the plaintiff's harm) and damages (if fault is found, the monetary extent of the defendant's liability).
One important thing to know here is that just because a lawsuit is scheduled for trial, that doesn't always means the trial will actually occur on that date. Trial dates get moved, usually for innocuous reasons, so don't assume that something unfavorable is happening.