Frequently Asked Questions: Medical Malpractice Claims 

Posted by Randy Andrus | Dec 14, 2021

Medical malpractice claims do not come in a one-type-fits-all package. Each case is unique for everyone involved. Additionally, medical malpractice cases are procedurally complex. If you believe you have a medical malpractice case, it's advisable to consult an experienced and trusted medical malpractice lawyer in Utah. In the event that you are conducting initial research to validate a potential medical malpractice claim, we've compiled these frequently asked questions. We hope that this will help you understand your specific case and seek the legal help you need to reclaim your life after a devastating medical malpractice injury. 

If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact Randy Andrus and his team at Andrus Law Firm. To set up an initial consultation call us at 801-535-4645, or fill out this convenient online contact form.  

Who Can be Liable for Medical Malpractice?

Liability is not exclusive to doctors in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Several medical professionals may have liability, including nurses, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, dentists, etc. Additionally, sometimes other parties may be sued as part of a medical malpractice claim, such as in the case of parental liability or contributory negligence. It's important to discuss the specific facts of your case with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer to determine who the liable parties are. 

What Are Some Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

From surgical mishaps to dangerous misdiagnoses, medical malpractice comes in many forms. Here are some common types of medical malpractice:

  • Failure to diagnose or treat 
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Surgical or procedural mistakes
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Prescription errors
  • Premature patient hospital release
  • Incorrect lab tests or lost results
  • Incorrect dosage administration
  • Medical product liability
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Dental mistakes
  • Failure to treat or prevent infection
  • Failure to warn of known risks
  • Post-surgical or follow-up errors

Can I Still File a Medical Malpractice Claim If I Signed a Consent Form?

Signing a consent form does not immediately excuse a medical provider of liability in a medical malpractice case. While signing a consent form may establish that you were aware of certain risks associated with your procedure, it does not excuse all forms of potential liability, including misdiagnosis, medication mistakes, procedure errors, postoperative failures, etc. There are many areas in which a medical professional may have been negligent. Do not forego legal action because you signed a consent form. 

Can I Take Legal Action Against a Doctor If He or She Did Not Disclose Associated Risks?

It depends. A doctor has a duty to disclose any significant risks that may be associated with a procedure. However, they aren't required to reveal every risk that could be related to a specific procedure. The failure to disclose a reasonable and significant risk may result in liability under “informed consent.” To prove a lack of informed consent, a plaintiff would have to prove that a reasonable doctor in the same area, with the same level of experience in a similar situation would have disclosed the risk or that a reasonable person with prior knowledge of the risk would have made a different decision regarding the procedure. 

When Is a Mistake Considered Medical Malpractice?

Medical mistakes do happen. However, not all mistakes are considered malpractice. Similarly, not all patients who are dissatisfied with their doctors, treatment, or procedures have a medical malpractice case. There are specific elements that must be met to have grounds for legal action. These elements are sometimes known as the “four Ds of medical malpractice.” 

  1. Duty of care - A doctor-patient relationship must exist, meaning that you have hired the doctor to treat you, and the doctor has agreed to be hired. If this relationship is present, the doctor or medical professional must act in accordance with the same standard of care that would be exercised by any competent medical professional in the same field and with similar experience. 
  2. Deviation from the standard of care - It must be provable that the medical professional deviated from the standard of care that a competent professional in the same field with the same level of experience would have shown.
  3. Direct cause of injury - The deviation from the standard of care must have resulted in specific injuries.
  4. Damages - Damages that can be compensated by the court must exist. This means that due to the provider's breach of duty, the plaintiff sustained some level of damages (medical bills, physical therapy, additional medication expenses, etc).

Are There Medical Malpractice Legal Remedy Caps in Utah?

Utah does not have a cap on the amount of economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc) that plaintiffs can receive for a medical malpractice case. However, there is a $450,000 cap on non-economic damages (pain and suffering, severe physical pain, etc). For medical malpractice cases in Utah, plaintiffs may collect the following types of legal remedies:

  • Economic Damages - These are monetary damages that may include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, rehabilitation costs, physical therapy bills, medication expenses, etc
  • Non-Economic Damages - These are non-monetary damages that may include emotional trauma, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, PTSD, anxiety, depression, pain and suffering, wrongful death, etc. 
  • Punitive Damages - These damages are meant to punish the defendant by increasing the amount of money owed to the plaintiff. For medical malpractice claims, there is no cap on punitive damages in Utah. If punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff, the amount will depend on the defendant's financial assets, type of misconduct, and the level of overall plaintiff damages. Utah Code § 78B-3-410.    

Are There Any Time Limits to File a Malpractice Claim?

For medical malpractice cases, there are statute of limitations laws in place depending on your state. In Utah, you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date the injury was sustained or the date it was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered. Some situations may impact this timeline depending on your case. Be sure to consult a medical malpractice lawyer promptly if you've been injured because of a medical professional's negligence or intentional conduct. 

Do I Need to Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Utah?

Medical malpractice claims are complex. Specific procedural requirements must be met before a case can proceed. Medical malpractice claims are very different. Hiring a lawyer is essential. If you have been hurt due to the negligence of a healthcare professional, and your case meets the specific elements discussed on this page, a medical malpractice lawyer will walk you through the right steps to take. Don't suffer alone – let us help you get the compensation you need and deserve. We'll fight to protect your rights every step of the way. Call Andrus Law Firm at 801-535-4645, or fill out our confidential and convenient online form

About the Author

Randy Andrus

BIO   Education University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (LL.M. 1987) Business and Taxation – Transnational Practice Courses and International Bar Association Convention, Salzburg, Austria Southwestern University School of Law (J.D. 1984) Dean's List American Jurisprudence...

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