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Have a Medical Malpractice Case? What You Need to Know First

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A personal injury due to medical malpractice is bad enough. But the process of filing a medical malpractice claim in Idaho can also be long and difficult.

It’s estimated that about 20,000 medical malpractice claims are filed in the U.S. every year. That number has dropped significantly in the past 20 years due to various laws that have sought to dissuade “frivolous” lawsuits.

However, don’t let these statistics and facts discourage you. If you think you have a legitimate lawsuit, a medical malpractice attorney can guide you through the process and help you recover on your damages.

There are certain laws and statutes in Idaho that make filing medical malpractice lawsuits more complicated.

A medical malpractice attorney can give you the specifics, but here’s a primer on what you need to know:

Timing is Everything

Like many states, Idaho has a statute of limitations on when medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed. In Idaho’s case, the law is two years.

So, when does the so-called clock start ticking on when you can file a lawsuit for your injury? Idaho law says that the lawsuit must be filed in the state’s court system within two years of when the incidence of medical malpractice occurred.

There are exceptions, though.

Those specific exceptions are when a foreign object (such as a medical sponge) has been left inside a patient’s body, and also when a healthcare provider knowingly conceals the malpractice. In the latter case, the concealment would essentially cover up the negligence on the part of the healthcare provider.

Another exception that allows the deadline to be extended is if the malpractice occurred when the patient was under 18 years old or has a mental disability. In these cases, the two-year “clock” starts ticking when the patient turns 18 years old or the mental disability ends.

Knowing about the statute of limitations is very important. If you miss the filing deadline, and no exception applies, the healthcare provider will almost certainly ask for the case to be dismissed – no matter how bad the negligence was.

Pre-Litigation Screening

Before a claim reaches the court, people looking to file medical malpractice lawsuits also have another hoop to jump through.

Pre-litigation screening in Idaho was developed to encourage settlements, and claimants are required to file hearing requests first before filing a civil claim with a state court.

The process is informal and it generally moves quickly. The chairman of the panel that hears your case will decide whether your case is frivolous or if it has merit. The panel may decide the case has merit and may advise you, your medical malpractice attorney, and the healthcare provider on an appropriate settlement amount.

But remember: The proceedings are non-binding. Even though they are required, you and your lawyer can still continue with the claim afterward.

Final Thoughts

Medical malpractice cases are complicated and they can sometimes be hard to win. Plaintiffs in these cases win only 27% of the lawsuits, compared to 52% of all other plaintiff-won tort trials, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study.

But like we said before, don’t let the numbers discourage you.

The information in this article is broad and generic, and each legal case is different. So, remember to reach out to a medical malpractice attorney at Rossman Law Group for a consultation and legal advice for your specific case.