LNCtips.com: 3 Type of Legal Deadlines
As nurses, we're used to meeting deadlines. We need to monitor patients' vital signs, administer medications and treatments, and assess patients within certain time parameters. If we don't meet those deadlines, there can be dire consequences for patients. Attorneys have deadlines too, and the consequences of missing deadlines can be severe. Let's look at three types of deadlines that attorneys encounter and why those deadlines are important to legal nurse consultants.
1) Statutes of limitations are deadlines familiar to most LNCs. In medical malpractice, a statute of limitations refers to a defined period for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit against a defendant. Each state has different time frames identified in its statutes of limitations. For example, an adult patient may have several years after the alleged malpractice to file the suit. After that point in time, the patient cannot file suit.
2) Discovery deadlines apply to the litigation process. As you know, discovery is the process of fact-finding by all parties during the lawsuit. During discovery, the plaintiff and defense request evidence, information, and documentation from the other side to bolster their cases. Each request during discovery imposes deadlines for a response. For example, the opposing party may have 30 days to answer interrogatories or 45 days to respond to requests for production. Again, each state has different discovery deadlines. Legal nurse consultants can find these deadlines in state statutes or rules of civil procedure.
3) Trial deadlines apply to cases in which a trial date is set. Trial deadlines differ from discovery deadlines in that the judge often imposes each trial deadline for a date certain. For example, for a trial scheduled on January 28, 2013, the deadline for submitting a pretrial plan might be September 24, 2012. Other deadlines might be October 24, 2012 for mediation, November 15, 2012 for expert witness and fact witness disclosure, and November 30, 2012 for independent medical examination.
In worst-case scenarios, failure to meet deadlines can result in dismissal of the case and/or charges of legal malpractice against the attorney. If you work in a law firm, your legal nurse consulting responsibilities might include calculation of discovery deadlines. If that's the case, use a date calculator to simplify this task. Whether you're an in-house, independent, or expert LNC, an important responsibility is to help your attorney meet target dates by being clear about your own deadlines.