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When people go to hospitals or their doctors in Utah, they place trust in their treating professionals and believe they have the right experience. Most doctors provide good treatment to patients. However, some health care professionals provide treatment that falls below the standards expected of professionals in their fields.
Medical mistakes can result in a devastating injury or fatality. According to research from Johns Hopkins published in the British Medical Journal in 2016, medical negligence was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., causing an estimated 250,000 deaths each year. Medical mistakes also leave countless others with severe injuries.
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If you believe that you or your loved one’s injury was caused by medical errors, you should talk to a medical malpractice lawyer at the law firm of Creekside Injury Law. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys can analyze your case. An attorney might be able to help you to recover compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Victims of medical malpractice need help fighting for justice. The hospital, medical professional, and/or medical facility all have their own huge insurance company that will fight against your recovery. In order to get the settlement you deserve, you need expertise.
Understanding medical negligence
In most medical malpractice claims, plaintiffs and lawyers plead medical negligence. Doctors and other medical professionals are expected to provide treatments to patients that meet the expected standards of treatment provided by other competent medical professionals in the same practice areas. Lawyers and their clients must also prove each of the elements of their claims.
What are the elements of a medical malpractice case?
Medical malpractice can take many forms, including medication errors, a surgery mistake, diagnostic errors, birth injuries, and more. Medical malpractice lawyers and clients must generally prove the following elements:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship.
- The doctor or other healthcare professional owed a duty of care to the patient.
- The treatment provided did not meet the expected standard of care in the practice area and community.
- The patient suffered injuries.
- The patient’s injuries were caused by the errors of the healthcare provider.
- The patient suffered actual harm.
A physician will not owe a duty to a patient until a doctor-patient relationship is formed. This normally occurs when a patient seeks treatment from a doctor, and the doctor agrees to provide care.
Healthcare providers must provide treatment that meets the expected standard of care. If a physician fails to provide care that meets this standard, he or she is negligent.
However, even if a doctor’s treatment did not meet the expected standard of care, the victims will not be able to recover damages unless they suffered an injury and harm. Experienced malpractice lawyers can properly evaluate the legal merits of your case.
Common medical errors
A hospital and its workers can cause serious harm when they commit medical negligence. Some of the most common cases handled by medical malpractice attorneys for their clients include the following:
- Birth injuries, including cerebral palsy and others
- Delayed diagnoses
- Failures to treat
- Medication mistakes
- Surgery negligence
A birth injury can form the basis of a malpractice claim when doctors or other labor and delivery staff make mistakes during the birth process, leaving an infant with permanent disabilities. Mothers may also be victims of medical negligence during the labor and delivery process and seek out attorneys to file lawsuits against the doctors and hospitals.
Delayed diagnoses happen after failures to diagnose or misdiagnoses. Delaying a diagnosis can cause the patient’s condition to worsen significantly. For example, if a patient’s cancer diagnosis is delayed, the patient’s prognosis may substantially worsen as cancer continued progressing without appropriate treatment. A medical negligence case might then be filed against the responsible doctors and hospitals.
Failures to treat happen when people are correctly diagnosed, but their doctors fail to provide appropriate treatment. This type of medical malpractice might occur when doctors in hospitals are caring for too many people at once. The doctors might fail to provide appropriate types of treatment or release patients too early.
Medication mistakes are common types of malpractice cases that attorneys handle for clients. Medication errors can happen when a doctor’s medical orders are incorrectly read, and the patients are administered too little or too much of the prescribed drug.
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In some cases, the patients might be given the wrong medication. Medication errors also include situations when doctors fail to review their patients’ medical records to check for potential adverse interactions with other medications or drug allergies, resulting in significant personal injury or death. An attorney at Creekside Injury Law can evaluate your case to determine what happened.
Misdiagnoses are also common in medical malpractice cases. Physicians might fail to correctly diagnose patients or diagnose them with the wrong conditions. This can happen when a doctor lacks experience. A misdiagnosis might lead to the worsening of the patient’s underlying medical condition. The patient might also receive unnecessary treatment or suffer a personal injury from the treatment received.
Finally, surgery errors are among the most widely reported medical malpractice cases. Some of the different types of surgical complications might include wrong patient surgeries, wrong-side or wrong-site surgeries, a surgery performed with non-sterile instruments, anesthesia errors, leaving foreign objects in the patient’s body, and more.
Fault in claims handled by medical malpractice lawyers
Determining fault in medical malpractice cases is critical for clients. Medical malpractice lawyers work to identify each party that contributed to a client’s personal injury to maximize the compensation recoverable in a case.
The state follows a modified comparative fault rule under Utah Code Ann. § 78B-5-818. Under this statute, a plaintiff who is 50% or more at fault for causing his or her injuries will be barred from recovering damages in a lawsuit. This statute provides that a plaintiff whose percentage of fault exceeds or is equal to the combined percentage of fault for all of the defendants will not be allowed to recover compensation. Each party that is found to hold a percentage of fault will be responsible for paying only the percentage allocated by the jury.
Under Utah Code Ann. § 78B-5-819, any party to a lawsuit may ask the court to direct the jury to apportion fault. If immune parties are found to be less than 40% at fault in aggregate, the court may then reallocate their percentages of fault to other parties. Medical malpractice lawyers might ask for apportionment and reallocation when there are multiple at-fault parties, including some who are immune from liability.
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Many different medical professionals are also granted immunity from liability when providing emergency medical care under the Health Care Providers Immunity from Liability Act found in Utah Code Ann. §§ 58-13-1, et seq. Medical professionals who provide free care at an emergency scene are immune from liability. However, this immunity will not apply to doctors who had a legal duty to respond.
As you can see, medical malpractice cases are complex. Our law firm provides free consultations. Call now!
Statute of limitations for medical negligence claims
There is a statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases found in Utah Code Ann. § 78B-3-404. The statute of limitations provides a deadline by which a victim must file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. Under this law, a victim must file a case no later than two years from the date that the act of medical malpractice was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
However, the maximum deadline for filing a case is four years from the incident’s date. When a doctor leaves a foreign object inside of a patient’s body or engages in misconduct to conceal medical negligence, the plaintiff must file a case within one year of discovery or within one year of when he or she should have reasonably discovered it.
If you do not file your case in time, you will be barred from pursuing damages for your losses. Your lawyer can help you to meet the filing deadlines to preserve your rights to recover damages.
UT Notice requirements
Under Utah Code Ann. § 78B-3-412, medical malpractice clients must file notices of their intent to file lawsuits, which will then be reviewed by a pre-ligitation panel. However, this requirement does not apply to dental malpractice claims.
The pre-litigation panel’s findings are non-binding and will be inadmissible in a lawsuit. If the parties and lawyers agree, the NOI process can be waived or converted to arbitration.
Experienced medical malpractice attorneys have done this before and know how to maximize the value of your claim. Victims of medical malpractice should not put their recovery in jeopardy.
Experts in UT medical malpractice claims
While expert witnesses are not legally required under Utah statutory law, expert testimony will be required to establish that a doctor breached the expected standard of care under the state’s case law. However, in cases involving facts that are simple for anyone to understand, experts will not be required. For example, lawyers will not likely have to present expert testimony about the expected standard if the doctor wrongfully amputated the wrong leg or left a foreign object in someone’s body.
Law firms have the experience to know when you need an expert and when you don’t.
UT damages cap
In medical malpractice cases, there is a cap on non-economic damages found in Utah Code Ann. § 78B-3-410. This cap limits plaintiffs to recovering no more than $450,000 for non-economic damages. Economic and punitive damages are not capped, however.
Damages in UT medical malpractice claims
If you win your malpractice case in Utah, you will be entitled to recover damages. These are monetary amounts that are meant to compensate victims for the losses they have suffered in cases involving malpractice. Compensatory damages include special or economic damages and general or non-economic damages.
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Special damages include the following types of compensation for clients:
- Past and future expenses for treating your injuries
- Past and future rehabilitation expenses
- Past wage losses and reduction in your future earning capacity
- In wrongful death claims, funeral and burial costs
General damages include the following types of compensation for clients:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional or psychological harm
- Reduction in your ability to enjoy life
- Loss of consortium/guidance
Punitive damages might be available in rare cases. These damages are not meant to compensate victims but are instead ordered when defendants’ conduct was outrageous. Your lawyer can help you to understand the types of damages that might be available in your case and provide you with an estimate of your claim’s value.
Schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney
If you believe that your injuries were caused by medical mistakes, you should schedule a free consultation with a professional malpractice lawyer at Creekside Injury Law. Call 385-263-7772 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.