Law Office of Ralph C. Petty

What Steps Should I Take If I’m A Victim Of Medical Malpractice?

If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, you must immediately see a Medical Malpractice attorney. Tell them your story and why you believe that malpractice has been committed. Then that attorney, if he believes that the case is meritorious, will order the medical records. You may want to try and gather the medical records yourself and provide them to the attorney; the problem is that it’s very common not to get all of the medical records when the patient seeks them themselves. The complete medical records have to be obtained, and they have to be able to be assessed by a medical expert, in order to determine whether there is a viable medical malpractice case that can be pursued in this political and economic system in which we now exist.

If the case is viable, the attorney will accept the case or refer it to another attorney for its evaluation. If the attorney accepts the case, he or she will be willing to make a significant investment of time and money that is required to get that case worked up and prepared for trial, and go through the process of the pre-litigation with the Department of Professional Licensing that the state of Utah requires as a prerequisite to going to court.

Is There A Statute Of Limitations On Filing A Medical Malpractice Claim?

There is a very strict statute of limitations on filing a medical malpractice claim. For most medical malpractice claims, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the occurrence of the malpractice. There can be some slight exceptions that may extend it, such as when someone discovered that there was likely to have been medical malpractice, which can possibly extend those two years. But for safety sake, you have to consider it two years from the time the medical malpractice occurred. Most of the time, there will be some incline in a medical procedure that there may have been malpractice. This is a very important thing. In the state of Utah, the University of Utah Health Plan and the University of Utah Hospital, the doctors and people who work in those University of Utah clinics and hospitals are employees of the state of Utah.

As such, they have a special statute of limitations as government employees, which is one year. You have to then go through the notice process to get by the governmental immunity. You have one year within which to start that procedure to institute a medical malpractice claim against the University of Utah or any of its physicians or employees. I make a special point of that, because currently in the state of Utah there are only two health plans that are being provided for the populous of Utah in this open enrollment season. Hospitals and the hospital groups provide both plans. One of them is Select Health, which is provided by Intermountain Healthcare.

For anyone in that system, there is a two-year statute of limitations. The other healthcare provider, which provides insurance benefits for half of the state, is the University of Utah health insurance. They go specifically and strictly to the University of Utah healthcare providers. Those providers will have a one year statute of limitations. It’s very common for University of Utah employees, meaning doctors, interns, residents, and nurses, to work in other hospitals. There are many other hospitals besides just the University of Utah and IHC (Intermountain Healthcare).

If they commit medical malpractice, those individuals are only liable if the action is brought against them within one year. Because of this, it takes real care in evaluating the case, in knowing who the players are, and in getting the names of the individuals who are alleged to have perpetrated medical malpractice on a patient. If at all possible, that needs to be provided to the attorney within one year of the occurrence. This is because if it’s a University of Utah employee, they are going to be limited. Sometimes, we can get around that by saying, “We can’t go against the University of Utah employee, but because they were at another hospital that’s not a University of Utah hospital, we can do it that way.” That hospital had supervisory duties to oversee the actions of that doctor, resident, or nurse, and we may be able to pursue a two-year statute of limitations for hospital or healthcare provider.

Because of this system, if you don’t bring your case to an attorney within one year so that they have enough time to assess and determine who the players are, you run the risk of losing your medical malpractice claim, even if it’s not a University of Utah Healthcare facility where that particular doctor or healthcare provider may have been working.

For more information on steps to take in a medical malpractice claim, a free initial consultation with Medical Malpractice attorney is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 783-1111 today.

Ralph C. Petty, ESQ.

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