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How Do You Determine The Viability Of A Medical Malpractice Claim?

In the most basic terms, there needs to be a breach of the standard of care. There needs to be clear damages and a causal link between the breach of the standards of care and those damages. Beyond that, a medical malpractice case can go many different ways, so we encourage individuals who think they have been subjected to medical malpractice to contact an attorney.

Do Most Medical Malpractice Cases Typically Settle Or Do They Go To Trial?

The vast majority of cases do not settle without some type of litigation. Therefore, it is important to note that in Utah, medical malpractice cases cannot simply be filed in court. They first have to go through an administrative process where a special panel reviews the case and determines if that case has “merit” or not. Regardless of that panel’s decision, the case can move forward as long as an expert is on board, and drafts an affidavit upon finding a breach of the standard of care. At that point, cases can move through the court process, and again, some cases settle, but certainly compared to car accident cases and slip and fall cases, it is much more common for a medical malpractice case to go to trial than settle.

What Guidelines Are Used For Proving Negligence In A Medical Malpractice Case?

To prove negligence, you have to show that a medical professional breached the standard of care. Proving this standard of care, which is again a subjective term, requires an opinion from an expert in the same field. For example, if a radiologist failed to diagnose, you will need a radiologist who can give an opinion on the standard of care within that community. If a nurse failed to properly treat you, then you need another nurse to act as an expert, and opine on how that was a failure, and how their treatment breached the standard of care. All medical malpractice cases require an expert opinion to be viable.

What Types Of Damages Might Be Awarded In a Medical Malpractice Case?

You can recover three different types of damages. First, is economic or special damage second are non-economic or general damages and the third type is punitive damages.

Are there Any Caps In Utah For Medical Malpractice Awards?

Yes, there are caps. In the state of Utah, the cap for non-economic damages is $450,000. To clarify, non-economic damages include mental and emotional anguish, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other similar non-quantifiable things. There is no cap on economic or punitive damages. The economic damages would include past and future medical bills, lost earning potential, lost wages and things of that nature that you can quantify. Finally, punitive damages are damages that are meant to punish the negligent party if their actions reach a certain level of reckless disregard for the patient’s health and safety.

What Steps Should Someone Take If They Believe They Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?

The first step would be to contact an attorney and have them screen the case. We need to look at the case to see if there is a viable cause of action. Beyond that, obtaining medical records is an important step. It can save the attorney a lot of time when reviewing a potential case. I also think it is important to keep a journal to describe how the injury is affecting your life while those facts are fresh in your mind. This will make it easier when you explain the story to your attorney and in court.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Medical Malpractice Claims In Utah?

The statute of limitations is generally two years from the date the claimant knew or should have known that a medical professional’s negligence caused their injury. This date can change to one year if you are making a claim against a governmental entity. Because of that, we emphasize the importance of having an attorney screen the case sooner rather than later to determine the cases viability.

For more information on Viability Of Medical Malpractice Claim, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 499-5060 today.

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