Medical malpractice is a highly complex area of law.
If you’ve been injured during medical care, however, the complexity of the law doesn’t need to stop you from seeking the legal advice you need to make an informed decision about your rights or to pursue compensation.
If you’re thinking about filing a medical malpractice claim in Arizona, the best course of action is to consult an experience Arizona medical malpractice lawyer. Your lawyer can give you advice and guidance for your specific situation. Understanding the basic guidelines that govern medical malpractice claims in Arizona can also help you take control of your situation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Arizona?
Arizona sets a time limit of two years on filing medical malpractice claims, known as the “statute of limitations.” Generally, the two-year window to file begins to run on the day the injury occurs or the date it is discovered. Your lawyer will help you determine exactly how the statute of limitations should be calculated in your case.
If the case isn’t filed before the statute of limitations expires, it cannot be heard in court. An exception to the two-year rule is when medical malpractice harms a minor under age 18. In that situation, the two years typically begins to run when the minor turns 18.
How Does My Lawyer Prove That What Happened to Me Was Medical Malpractice?
While the facts of each case are different, when demonstrating that medical malpractice occurred, your lawyer will typically look at four different questions:
Was the responsible party a “healthcare provider,” as defined in Arizona?
Did the healthcare provider fail to use the degree of care (including skill or learning) that a reasonable, prudent healthcare provider would have used in the same situation?
Did the healthcare provider’s failure to use this degree of care cause harm to you?
Can the harm you suffered be compensated through a civil lawsuit?
If you and your lawyer can demonstrate that the answer to all four questions is “yes,” you are likely to succeed in your medical malpractice case.
Damages in an Arizona medical malpractice case typically fall into one of two categories: actual (or compensatory) damages and general (or non-compensatory) damages.
“Actual damages” include those out of pocket costs that you can typically demonstrate by providing evidence like receipts, bank statements, or paystubs. In a medical malpractice case, costs like medical bills, prescription fees, skilled nursing or physical therapy costs, medical devices like wheelchairs, and lost wages are commonly-incurred types of actual damages.
“General damages” include losses you suffered, but that don’t necessarily come with a bill or receipt attached. For instance, compensation for pain and suffering, mental and emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life are commonly-incurred types of general damages in medical malpractice cases.
What If I Think I’m Partly Responsible for My Injuries?
In Arizona, people injured by medical malpractice can typically recover damages even if they are partly or wholly at fault for their injury. Arizona uses the doctrine of “pure comparative fault.” Under this rule, your damages are reduced by the amount of fault assigned to you, no matter how low or high that number is.
For example, suppose that a surgeon made an error that caused you harm, but you also made the problem worse by failing to take medication prescribed to you after surgery. At trial, the jury decides that the surgeon is 60 percent at fault and you are 40 percent at fault. They also decide that your total damages are $100,000. Under the pure comparative fault rule, you will receive 60 percent of the $100,000 total damages, or $60,000.
Because Arizona uses a “pure” comparative fault rule, you can recover some damages no matter how much of the fault is assigned to you. For instance, if the jury in the example here assigned you 99 percent of the fault, you could still receive $1,000, or 1 percent of the total damages.
It is very important to speak to an attorney even if you think you’re partly responsible for your injuries. Your lawyer can gather the evidence necessary to determine what really happened and to secure any compensation you’re entitled to receive.
If you would like to discuss your case, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Here at the Folger Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they need and deserve. We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay fees unless we recover for you.
Call now to speak with an attorney about your case.
Folger Law Firm
11811 N Tatum Blvd #3031, Phoenix, AZ 85028