How do I know if I have a malpractice case?

There’s no question that even the best physicians make mistakes. However, not every mistake is grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. A harmed patient must prove that the physician failed to meet the proper standard of care and caused personal injury or financial losses.

The state of Arizona has enacted multiple laws to prevent frivolous lawsuits from bogging down the court systems and in turn, escalating insurance premiums for physicians. These are some requirements for those wishing to bring forward a malpractice lawsuit in Arizona:

  • Statute of limitations: There is a two-year window for filing a medical malpractice case in Arizona. The two years begins from the date the injury or death occurred. However, the clock doesn’t start until the petitioner reaches 18 years old and does not run during incarceration or incapacitation.
  • Affidavit of merits: An impartial physician completes this document declaring a case worthwhile for the courts. The deadline for submitting an affidavit of merits is 60 days from the date the lawsuit filed and applies only to malpractice cases using expert testimony. Courts use this testimony to establish liability or standard of care in proving negligence.

Limits to negligence

In 2009, the Arizona legislature passed legislation that evened the playing field for emergency patients. The new law states that emergency childbirth patients must present “clear and convincing evidence” but adds an exemption for patients whose medical information is not reasonably available.

Physicians or dentists performing services within their scope of practice voluntarily at a non-profit clinic are not liable for incurred injuries or lost wages. Those acting under a Good Samaritan Law and providing emergency treatment in a public setting also may not have a malpractice case brought against them.

Current malpractice laws put in place do their best to ensure fairness to both the harmed patient and the physician or clinic defending the lawsuit. The law provides certain exemptions for emergency and medical professionals working pro bono avoid deterring them from helping those in need. Patients must find objective and clear evidence of their physician’s negligence in their personal injury or inability to work.

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