Connecticut Mandates Mediation For Medical Malpractice Cases

Connecticut Mandates Mediation for Medical Malpractice Cases

As of July 1, the presiding judge over a medical malpractice case must refer the case to a 120-day mediation period or other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process "before the close of proceedings."

The presiding judge, or other designated judge, will conduct the first mediation session in an effort to get the parties to come to an agreement to settle the matter. If the first mediation session fails to settle the dispute, the parties can agree to continue the mediation process.

According to the new statute, "achieving a prompt settlement or resolution of the civil action" is the stated purpose of mandating mediation in medical malpractice cases.

Whatever the stated purpose of the new law, mandatory mediation is also seen as a way for insurance companies and others in the medical field to lower costs. The hope is that medical malpractice cases that have very clear liability issues or are not meritorious to begin with will be settled before they incur the expenses of trial.

However, critics of the new law believe that the early nature of the mediation will lead to few cases being settled during the mediation process. A few defense attorneys believe that at this early stage, only the allegations will be known and not the strengths and weakness of the case.

Other observers question the necessity of the law, as parties can already voluntarily enter into the mediation of medical malpractice disputes. Referring to the new mediation law, former Superior Court Judge Joseph Mengacci states: "If I'm reading this correctly, and the parties both have to agree to go to [the second stage of mediation], I don't see how that's any different practically than what we have right now."

There is consensus that the new law will not resolve "big-ticket" cases, but may help resolve smaller cases before they go through protracted litigation.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your situation.