How to Define Medical Malpractice?

When a doctor or medical professional fail to perform their duties with adequate competence and injure you in the process, that is defined as medical malpractice. This can take on many forms and can mean different things under certain circumstances. Essentially, if a mistake is made by your doctor that causes an injury or harm, and it can be proven that another medical professional in a similar position would not have made the same choice, that is deemed as medical malpractice.

Components of Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury ClaimsIn the event that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, or you are just wanting to protect yourself from it in the future, you should understand certain factors that relate to medical malpractice claims:

  • Doctor-Patient Relationship. The first factor involves you seeking medical assistance from a doctor or professional. This can involve just scheduling an appointment at their location, going to the hospital, or simply a formal request for medical care. The doctor has to have knowledge that they are caring for you as a patient.
  • Negligence. There are a few ways that negligence by a physician can occur, but it is often defined as some behavior that fails to be skilled or competent. If your doctor does or does not do something that a regularly skilled physician would or would not do, then it counts as negligence.
  • Injury. When a physician does not perform in a way viewed as skilled or carefully, you want to consider filing a medical malpractice claim. This injury can either be physical, emotional, financial, social, situational, or mental. The one key factor is that the harm should be related directly to the negligence of the doctor. You have to prove specific damages that are resultant of the physician’s negligence in order to have a successful medical malpractice claim.

Medical Malpractice According to State

There are requirements that vary by state regarding medical malpractice claims. There are states that have in place limits on how late you are able to file a claim of medical malpractice. There are also states that have limits on the damages that can be retained by the victim. There are some laws that require that the physician being accused be notified in advance. These factors all depend on the state where you live. Because of these varying factors, it is crucial that you have a knowledgeable attorney who understands the legal background of these cases. This can make all the difference in the final verdict of your claim.

Laws in Utah Regarding Malpractice

The law in Utah involving medical malpractice is very strict and regulated. There are damage caps on non-economic damages, caps on lawyer fees, and there are no mandatory requirements on provider insurance. These conditions make Utah a defendant-friendly state. This means that if you are considering filing a medical malpractice suit in the state of Utah, you will likely face a lot of challenges.

Statute of Limitations

There is a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice suits in Utah, starting from the time that the injury was or should have been discovered. The maximum limit is set at four years, and this means that you are unable to file a case more than four years from the time of the injury, regardless of when you were made aware of the injury.

When the case of medical malpractice causes a wrongful death, the standard statute of limitations of medical malpractice still applies. This is an important factor due to the fact that Utah has a separate statute regarding wrongful death in all other legal matters. Simply, the general wrongful death statute does not outweigh the medical malpractice statute.

Caps on Damages

There is a restrictive non-economic damages cap for medical malpractice claims in Utah. Economic damages such as wage loss, medical costs, and other countable losses are not capped, while non-economic damages such as for pain and anguish are capped at $450,000. This can be hard to hear, especially for victims who have suffered from very serious injuries. Over an entire lifetime, $450,000 does not offer much reassurance when dealing with serious injury or disfigurement. When the number was first implemented in 1996, it was much lower, and it has been adjusted to account for inflation in recent years.

Rules Concerning Fault

There is a modified version of comparative negligence in Utah involving how to discover fault in medical malpractice suits. As stated before, this means that negligence on the part of the plaintiff serves as a way to measure how much can be recovered in damages. The percentage of fault has to be equal or exceed the fault of the defendants involved in the suit.

There is also an “immunity from liability” concern in Utah that is often used in cases regarding emergency care. There is immunity given to healthcare providers that offer free care at the scene of an accident. This does not apply if the defendant has a legal duty to respond.

Malpractice Injuries in Utah

Statistics show that medical malpractice is more prevalent than you may think. In 2017, at least 55% of physicians were in some way involved in a medical malpractice case. You need to be prepared in order to protect yourself and your family in the event of being a victim in a medical malpractice case.

Siegfried & Jensen have been helping the Utah community and the surrounding areas for many years now. Our firm proudly has a 97% success rate with our total of 35,000 cases. We aim to provide help to our clients so they can focus on rehabilitation after a serious accident or injury. Please call us today at  (801) 845-9000 and talk about your claim with an experienced Utah medical malpractice attorney.

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.