Medical malpractice is a serious issue that affects thousands of people each year. When a healthcare provider fails to meet the expected standard of care, patients can suffer serious injuries, illnesses, and even death. 

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. One of the most critical aspects of pursuing a medical malpractice claim is understanding the concept of statutes of limitations. 

This blog post will explore how statutes of limitations work in medical malpractice cases, including what they are, how they vary by state, and what exceptions may apply. 

We will also discuss the importance of seeking legal representation if you suspect that you may have a medical malpractice claim and how a medical malpractice lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Defining Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a term used to describe the negligence or professional misconduct of healthcare professionals that causes harm or injury to a patient. 

As a patient, you have the right to expect a certain standard of care from your healthcare provider. Medical malpractice can take many forms, such as misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, and failure to diagnose. 

Types of Medical Malpractice

There are five main medical malpractice types: misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, anesthesia errors, and failure to obtain informed consent. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis – If a doctor fails to diagnose a condition or misdiagnoses a condition that leads to a delay in treatment, this can seriously harm the patient. Misdiagnosing cancer as a less serious condition is an example of this.
  2. Surgical errors – A surgeon making an error during a procedure can seriously harm the patient. An example would be a surgeon operating on the wrong body part or leaving a surgical instrument inside the patient’s body, which can cause serious complications.
  3. Medication errors – If a healthcare provider prescribes the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of a medicine, the patient could suffer serious harm. For example, if a doctor prescribes a medication that the patient is allergic to or prescribes a dosage that is too high, this can cause harm or even death.
  4. Anesthesia errors – If an anesthesiologist administers too much or too little anesthesia or administers it incorrectly, the patient could be seriously harmed.  For example, patients underdosed with anesthesia may wake up during surgery and experience extreme pain and psychological trauma.
  5. Failure to obtain informed consent – If a healthcare provider fails to obtain informed consent from a patient before a procedure or treatment, this can be considered medical malpractice. Informed consent means that the patient has been fully informed of the risks and benefits of the treatment and any alternative treatments and has given their consent to the treatment.
    A healthcare provider must obtain informed consent to ensure the patient understands the risks and benefits of the treatment and may suffer harm as a result.

These are just a few examples of medical malpractice. If you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney specializing in medical malpractice cases.

Medical Malpractice Laws in Utah

Medical malpractice laws in Utah are governed by Title 78B, Chapter 3, Utah Medical Malpractice Act. 

In Utah, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of the date of the injury or within two years of the date the injury should have been discovered. There is also a four-year statute of repose, which means that no medical malpractice claim can be filed more than four years after the date of the injury. 

To file a medical malpractice claim in Utah, the plaintiff must submit a notice of intent to commence an action to the healthcare provider at least 90 days before filing the lawsuit. 

The notice of intent must include a description of the alleged malpractice, the names of all healthcare providers involved, and authorization to release medical records. Then, within 60 days of filing the notice of intent, the plaintiff must also file a request for a prelitigation panel review with the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. 

And that’s just scratching the surface. Medical malpractice laws in Utah are complex, making it essential to consult with an experienced attorney if you believe you have been the victim of medical malpractice.

Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations are laws that limit how long a person has to bring a lawsuit against another party for a particular claim. 

In medical malpractice cases, these laws vary by state and typically range from one to three years from the date of the alleged malpractice or from the date when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. If a person fails to file a lawsuit within the specified period, they may lose their right to seek compensation for their injuries.

It is important to note that some states have exceptions to the statute of limitations. For example, if the patient was under 18 at the time of the malpractice, the statute of limitations may begin once they turn 18. 

Additionally, some states have a “discovery rule” that allows the statute of limitations to begin when the patient discovers or should have discovered the injury rather than when the malpractice occurred.

Examples of Statutes of Limitations

Here are some examples of statutes of limitations for different states in medical malpractice settings to give you an idea of what medical malpractice can look like in the United States:

  1. In California, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally three years from the date of the injury or one year from the discovery of the injury, whichever occurs first.
    There is also a four-year “outside limit” from the date of the injury, regardless of when it was discovered. An outside limit refers to the maximum time that can pass between an event’s occurrence and when the lawsuit is filed.
  2. In New York, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two and a half years from the date of the injury. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the malpractice involved a foreign object left inside the patient’s body, the statute of limitations is one year from discovering the object.
  3. In Texas, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two years from the date of the injury. Exceptions include if the malpractice involved fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation. In that case, the statute of limitations is extended to two years from the date of the discovery of the injury.
  4. In Florida, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two years from the date of the injury or two years from the date of the discovery of the injury, whichever occurs first. There is a hard cap of four years from the date of the injury, regardless of when it was discovered.
  5. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two years from the date of the injury or two years from the date of the discovery of the injury, whichever occurs first. Seven years is the outside limit, regardless of when it was discovered.
  6. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is one year from the date of injury or one year from the date that the injury was discovered (or should have been discovered) up to a maximum of four years from the date of the incident.
  7. In Michigan, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is typically two years from the date of the injury or up to six months after the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the injury, whichever is later. Exceptions exist for children and wrongful death cases.
  8. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is generally three years from the date of the injury or up to two years from the date that the injury was discovered, whichever is shorter. There is also a 10-year outside limit from the date of the alleged malpractice.
  9. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is typically two years from the date of the injury or up to four years from the date of the incident, whichever is shorter. If the plaintiff is a minor, the statute of limitations is typically extended until the child’s eighth birthday.
  10. In Utah, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is typically two years from the date of the injury or up to two years from the date that the injury was discovered (or should have been discovered), whichever is later. There is a four-year outside limit from the date of the alleged malpractice.
    This means that even if a plaintiff discovers the injury several years after the incident, they still have a maximum of four years from the date of the malpractice to file a lawsuit. It is essential to be aware of this outside limit when considering a medical malpractice claim in Utah, as missing the deadline could result in the case being dismissed. 

An experienced attorney can help you understand the specific laws and deadlines that apply to your situation and ensure you file your lawsuit within the appropriate timeframe.

These ten examples show how laws vary by state and explain why hiring a medical malpractice lawyer to represent you in your state is so important.

Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Let’s examine why hiring a medical malpractice lawyer is so important if you believe you’re the victim of medical malpractice

  1. A lawyer has the legal knowledge and expertise to effectively investigate your case and build a strong argument. They will be familiar with the laws and regulations governing medical malpractice cases and can use this knowledge to identify any negligence or wrongdoing.
  2. Medical malpractice lawyers can review medical records, consult experts, and gather evidence to support your claim. They can analyze your medical records to determine if there were errors or omissions that contributed to your injury. They can also consult with medical experts to evaluate the quality of care provided and determine if that care was breached.
  3. Medical malpractice lawyers can negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses. They can use their knowledge of previous cases to assess your claim’s value and determine fair compensation.
    They can communicate with insurance adjusters and other representatives to ensure your rights are protected and you receive a fair settlement. This includes negotiating compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses.
  4. If necessary, a lawyer can represent you in court and advocate for your rights before a judge and jury. They can present compelling arguments and evidence to support your claim. This includes cross-examining witnesses and challenging evidence presented by the defense. Your lawyer will ensure your case is presented in the best possible light.
  5. A lawyer can help you understand the legal process and provide guidance and support throughout the case. They can explain the steps involved in filing a claim, the deadlines that must be met, and the legal principles that apply to your lawsuit. They can also guide the evidence to support your claim and the best strategies for presenting your case.
  6. Medical malpractice lawyers can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. A lawyer can help you file a claim against the healthcare provider or facility responsible for your injuries. As mentioned above, they can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

Contact Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson Today

Understanding the statutes of limitations in medical malpractice cases in Utah is crucial for anyone who has suffered harm from a healthcare provider’s hands. If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, acting quickly and seeking legal guidance from a knowledgeable attorney is important. 

At Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson, we have extensive experience representing clients in medical malpractice cases and are dedicated to fighting for the rights of those who have been injured. 

We offer free case evaluations to help you understand your legal options and determine how we can best assist you. Call us today at 801.500.4000 to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward seeking justice for your injuries.