FREQUENTY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES IN ARIZONA
1. What is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case in Arizona?
The statute of limitations is the deadline by which a case must be filed with the court. In Arizona, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case is 2 years from the date the person knew or should have known of the injuries that put him/her on notice to investigate the cause. If the person died, the family has 2 years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.
2. What is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case against a city, state, or municipality in Arizona?
If your claim is against the city, state, county, or any other entity run by the state (or the city, town, etc.), you have to file a notice of claim against the correct entity within 6 months of the date you knew or should have known of the potential negligence. Examples of claims that require a notice of claim include (but are not limited to) claims against: county hospitals, public schools, police officers, city/state/county for road design flaws, and potentially resident doctors.
3. What is the statute of limitations for a minor pursuing a medical malpractice case in Arizona?
In Arizona, the statute of limitations for a minor is 2 years from his/her 18th birthday. If the claim is against a public entity, it is 6 months from his/her 18th birthday. If the child dies, the statute of limitations for the parents is 2 years from the child’s death.
4. What do we have to prove to win a medical malpractice case?
To prove a medical malpractice case, we have to establish 3 key links in the case. First, we must prove that the doctor/nurse/healthcare provider was negligent, or below the standard of care. In other words, that he or she did something that was not reasonable or prudent. Second, we must prove that what the doctor/nurse/healthcare provider did wrong was a cause of the injuries. If the person was injured, but the defendant did not cause it, there is no case. Finally, we must prove what the person’s damages (injuries) are. All three of these elements must be met in order to proceed to court.
5. How much is my medical malpractice case worth?
Unfortunately, no one can tell you this with any true accuracy. All any lawyer can say is what similar cases have settled for (or returned jury verdicts for) in the past. That said, every case is different, and the varying facts will significantly impact the case value. At Snyder & Wenner, we only handle catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Accordingly, we limit our practice to cases that could return a $1 million or more settlement/verdict. The reason we focus on these types of cases is because we know we can make a difference in the community by litigating them. Hospitals and doctors are not affected by small cases. Large settlements/verdicts, however, cause them to re-think their behavior and to rewrite policies and procedures in order to protect patients.
6. What happens if entries in the medical records are incorrect or falsified?
We often see medical records where the entries are simply untrue. This happens for several reasons, some benign and some nefarious. Sometimes, the voice dictation software picks up the wrong word and changes the entire meaning of a sentence. There are also times where a careless doctor/nurse types the wrong information in. These mistakes should be caught when the doctor/nurse re-reads and approves the note, since they are required to do so before it becomes part of the record. More often than not, though, the inaccurate entry is because a doctor/nurse is trying to cover something up. Electronic medical records have made it much easier to prove these lies, and it is something that we look at in every case.
7. Do I owe any money out of pocket for my medical malpractice case?
No. Any attorney or law firm who tries to charge you money up front is not someone who is experienced in this field. We pay all costs of the case, and then collect that money (in addition to our fee) once the case settles or ends in a trial verdict. There is a chance that if the defendants win the case that you might owe them money. This is based on the court rules, and we will discuss this potential outcome at great length during our consultation.