Utah Medical Malpractice and Negligence FAQs
Salt Lake City, Tooele and Price, Utah
Some of the most frequent questions we get asked:
- Arbitration agreements are signed documents, a contract, between the patient and the health care provider in which the patient agrees that if any difficulties result from the treatment they will pursue arbitration rather than suing in court. Many doctors include these in the handful of papers they ask patients to sign before receiving treatment. Health care providers in Utah cannot refuse to treat you if you do not sign the arbitration agreement.You must be careful. Arbitration is rarely, if ever, advantageous to an injured patient. You have a constitutional right to have a jury trial in a contest between you and a negligent health care provider. If you sign an arbitration agreement you are waiving your constitutional right to a trial by jury.
If you get a request from your insurance company in the mail asking you to sign an arbitration agreement, we suggest you reply by informing it that you intend to retain your constitutional right to a jury trial if your doctor is negligent, and that you are aware of Utah law which prohibits the company from denying you coverage because you will not sign. Another option is to sign the agreement and then rescind it within 30 days, an action which is also valid under Utah law.
- One of the medical malpractice lawyers in our Salt Lake City firm recently overheard a doctor tell a patient that arbitration allowed the patient to avoid “getting a lawyer involved.” This is not true. Arbitration is just like a lawsuit but only in a forum that is more advantageous to health care providers. Like a lawsuit, arbitration involves months of complex fact-gathering and legal arm-wrestling. Like a lawsuit, expert witnesses must still be hired and testimony from all the relevant parties must be gathered. When it comes time to go before the arbitrator and make your case, you can be sure the doctor will be there with an attorney to plead his defense zealously. An injured patient will not want to enter that trap alone; injured patients need an equally experienced attorney at their table to ensure that the law is properly applied and all of their rights are protected.Additionally, in some cases the signed arbitration agreement may not be valid. Depending on the language of the agreement and the time it was signed, an injured patient may still have other legal options.
- Medical malpractice occurs when the medical care a health care provider gives falls below the appropriate standard of the medical profession or the quality of care ordinarily given in the same specialty. Medical malpractice can be as complex as failing to diagnose a disease, or as simple as failing to turn someone over in their hospital bed. Examples of medical malpractice include:
- failure to diagnose a disease or medical condition
- failure to obtain informed consent before performing a procedure
- failure to provide appropriate treatment
- unreasonable delay in providing treatment
- giving the wrong medicine
- leaving a foreign object in the body after surgery
- failing to timely deliver a baby
- giving an improper interpretation of radiology films
- Medical negligence can occur at the hands of more people than just a doctor or nurse. Hospitals can be held responsible for their policies and practices as well as for the actions of their employees. Nurse practitioners and other members of a doctor’s staff are also accountable for their actions while rendering health care. Additionally, pharmacies and laboratories can be negligent in the way they dispense medications or interpret lab results.
- The statute of limitations is a limit created by the legislature on the amount of time in which you can bring a suit for any injuries suffered as a result of someone’s negligence. In Utah, the statute of limitations is two years from the time you discovered the medical malpractice. However, there are exceptions to this limit if the case involves a child, a retained object, or concealment on the part of the health care provider. Statutes of limitations can be difficult to calculate and you should consult a medical malpractice lawyer in Utah before concluding that it is too late to pursue your case.
- The law provides a remedy for injuries that patients suffer at the hands of negligent medical practitioners called “damages.” Patients who are injured because of medical malpractice are entitled to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can include payment for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses. You may also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages such as mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship.
- We are frequently asked to associate with other lawyers in handling complex medical malpractice cases, and after a preliminary case review, we will accept referrals as well. You can read more at our attorney referral page.
- It can be very overwhelming and stressful to learn that a medical procedure was on the brink of causing serious injury or death. However, if what almost happened didn’t ever actually happen, it wouldn’t be generally acceptable to sue for a medical malpractice claim. Unfortunately, these cases usually only come to light after the damage has been done.
- At G. Eric Nielson and Associates, we offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee. A contingency fee is a percentage we take out of the settlement. You will never actually owe us any upfront money, and will not be charged any fees unless the case is won. We have a proven track record, and always strive to leave our clients satisfied at the end of the case.
- There is no standard as to how much money you will receive in a medical malpractice case. Any attorney that tells you a set amount before months and months of working on the case is simply lying to you. There are many factors that go into the amount of the settlement, such as:
- The negative effect on future earnings
- The negative impact on daily life functions
- How a jury views the person who was injured
- The location the incident occurred
There are many more factors that only a reputable lawyer can help you dive into. Contact us today to find out more about your case.