When we're sick, we go to the doctor to make us better. We trust that they know what they are doing, even if we don't understand exactly what's going on in medical terms. Tragically, many people have had rude awakenings when it comes to medical errors caused by negligent health care providers. As one of the leading causes of death in the United States, medical negligence is a real issue with real consequences. If you've sustained injuries due to a negligent health care provider, you know all too well the reality of the situation.
While we understand that injuries and harm caused by malpractice cannot be erased, we're here to help you get the compensation you deserve so that you can begin to recover. If you need a medical malpractice lawyer on your side, look no further than Andrus Law Firm. Give us a call at 801-535-4645, or fill out our confidential online form. We'll set up an initial consultation to review the facts of your case and advise you on the best route forward.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice comes in many forms. Whenever the actions or inactions of a medical professional deviates from the normal and acceptable standard of care, a patient may file a medical malpractice claim. Whether that deviation from the standard of care occurs in the operating room, a nursing home, an out-patient clinic, or at a dental office, medical negligence is very serious.
Some common examples of medical negligence include:
- Surgical errors, including items left inside the patient (surgical tools, gauzes, sponges, etc)
- Surgery on the wrong site or wrong patient
- Post-surgical or follow-up errors
- Birth injuries
- Failure to prevent or treat infection
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
- Incorrect treatment
- Delayed treatment
- Administration of incorrect medications or dosages
- Failure to warn of known risks
The reasons medical mistakes happen vary from miscommunication in the operating room, fatigue after long work hours, mismanagement of the staff schedule to clear-cut medical professional negligence or incompetence. If you or a loved one has sustained any of the above injuries for whatever reason, you may have a medical malpractice case. For more information regarding your specific situation, contact Andrus Law Firm today to set up an initial case review.
Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Case
Not all unsuccessful medical procedures are considered malpractice. Being unhappy with the results of a procedure does not provide the grounds to sue your healthcare provider. Similarly, many medical mistakes are not easy to prove. Four elements must exist for a medical malpractice claim to be valid:
- Duty of Care - A doctor-patient relationship must be present to file a medical malpractice claim. If such relationship exists, the medical professional has an obligation to his or her patient to provide a reasonable and competent standard of care.
- Deviation from the Standard of Care - A deviation from the standard of care happens when a medical professional fails to provide treatment with the same standard of care, skill, and competence that another professional in the same industry, under the same circumstances would have provided.
- Direct Cause of Injury - The deviation from the standard of care must have directly resulted in injuries to the patient.
- Damages - The sustained injuries from the medical error must have resulted in damages for the patient (medical bills, lost wages, medication expenses, etc).
If you believe all four elements exist in your case, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim.
Who Is Liable in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Proving who was responsible for the negligence that led to a patient's injury is a huge part of a malpractice case – it's not always the fault of a doctor. Several individuals and entities may be liable in a malpractice lawsuit. Some potentially liable parties of medical negligence may include:
- The hospital
- Pharmaceutical companies
Damages Available in Utah
Many states limit the amount of damages that plaintiffs can recover in medical malpractice lawsuits. Utah has placed a $450,000 cap on non-economic damages, however, there is no current cap on economic damages for medical malpractice lawsuits. 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.
Medical Malpractice Timeline
In Utah, the timeline to commence a medical malpractice lawsuit is two years from the date the injury was sustained or the date it was discovered, or should have reasonably been discovered. Utah Code § 78B-3-404.
Utah also adheres to the “statute of repose,” which states that no action shall be taken once four years have passed since the medical mishap occurred. However, there are situations when the four-year deadline does not apply: if surgical items were left inside the patient, or if the medical professional attempted to cover up the error. When these situations happen, the plaintiff will have one year from the date that the medical error was discovered to file suit.
Consult with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
Medical mistakes can take a huge toll on a person's health and everyday life. Unfortunately, no action can erase the negligence that caused your injury, but it can help you financially recover. Taking legal action also holds the medical professional or entity accountable for the negligence, helping to stop medical errors from happening to others.
Medical malpractice claims are complex, and the process is long. Make sure you hire an attorney who is trustworthy and experienced in these types of cases. If you believe you have a case, give our medical malpractice lawyers in Utah a call today. We will stand up and fight to protect your rights and get you the compensation you need to begin to heal. You can reach the Andrus Law team by phone at 801-535-4645, or you can fill out our confidential online form.