Medical malpractice is a civil wrong that occurs when a doctor or other medical professional is responsible for an injury to a patient by falling below the standard duty of care that is required of them when:
- They are actively managing the patient;
- They are diagnosing or have diagnosed a patient; and/or
- They are actively treating a patient, such as performing a surgery.
It is important to note that the deviation from the standard duty of care that is required of all medical professionals is generally the result of an act of negligence done by the medical professional. Medical malpractice laws are the set of laws that allow an injured patient, commonly referred to as a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit, to bring a private civil lawsuit against a negligent medical professional.
Malpractice laws also allow injured persons to recover damages for the harms that were caused by the professional’s substandard conduct. Importantly, damages may also extend to the facility or medical group in some cases.
Whether or not a medical professional or medical facility can actually be held liable for a patient’s injuries will largely depend on the specific facts of the medical malpractice case. Additionally, the medical malpractice laws that are enacted in the state in which the harm occurred will also influence who can be held liable and what damages are available to an injured plaintiff. In fact, there are limits on damages that may be recovered in medical malpractice claims in most states. However, Arizona is not one of those states
Are There Any Limits on Arizona Medical Malpractice Awards?
As mentioned above, there are no limits on Arizona medical malpractice settlements and damage awards. Specifically, in the state of Arizona, the state constitution specifically prohibits any limits on damages or settlement amounts in civil cases for personal injury. This means that courts in Arizona are allowed to issue a damages award for any amount in a medical malpractice case, so long as the damage award is reasonable and proportionate to the injury or economic losses that were suffered by the injured patient.
As far as limits on Arizona medical malpractice awards, there are states with no medical malpractice damages caps and states with medical malpractice damages caps and attorney’s fee limits. For example, California and Texas both have medical malpractice damages caps that place a limit on the amount of money that can be recovered by a person that was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The intended purpose of medical malpractice damage caps is to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
It is important to note that injured patients, also known as plaintiffs, will still need to both prove negligence by the medical professional, along with proving that the medical professional was the proximate cause of their damages.
What Is the Average Payout for Medical Malpractice Claims in Arizona?
It is important to note that every medical malpractice claim in Arizona is unique. This means that as far as the average payout for medical malpractice claims in Arizona, that will be dependent on the specific facts of the case.
Damages claimed by a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case in Arizona generally include:
- Economic Damages: Economic damages are monetary amounts that can be measured and specifically calculated based on the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
- Economic damages commonly include medical expenses, hospital bills, lost wages, and/or loss of earning capacity;
- Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages are monetary amounts that are more difficult to calculate, as they are intangible damages.
- Common examples of non-economic damages include a plaintiff’s pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of activities, loss of consortium, and reputational damage; and
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are rarely awarded in medical malpractice cases in Arizona. Punitive damages are damages that are intended to punish the defendant, in an effort to discourage repetition of their actions.
In addition to the damages above, in some cases a plaintiff may be partially responsible for their own damages. For example, if the plaintiff exacerbated their own injury further by walking on it or not properly resting as per the doctor’s instructions, then their damages award may be reduced. The state of Arizona follows the pure comparative negligence rule of damages, which means for whatever percentage of fault the plaintiff was responsible for their own damages, that percentage will be reduced from their damages award.
For instance, if a plaintiff was able to recover $1,000,000 for damages that they suffered as a result of a medical professional’s malpractice, but they made their injury worse by not immediately seeking further treatment, a jury or court may find that they are 30% responsible for their own injury.
As such, the plaintiff would be limited to recovering only $700,000. An Arizona medical malpractice lawyer will be able to assist an injured plaintiff in maximizing their damages award by correctly pleading for damages and guiding the plaintiff through their recovery.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims in Arizona?
A statute of limitations is the amount of time that a party has to bring forth a civil claim against the party alleged to have harmed them. If a plaintiff tries to sue the party alleged to have harmed them after the statute of limitations has passed, then their civil claim will be barred.
In the state of Arizona, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is 2 years. This means that patients injured as a result of medical malpractice have two years to file their civil case. Importantly, the statute of limitations in Arizona begins once the plaintiff’s injury has manifested. As such, if more than 2 years has elapsed since the time that the plaintiff’s injury manifested, they can no longer sue the medical professional or facility for damages associated with their injury.
Can a Person Sue an HMO in Arizona?
A health maintenance organization (“HMO”) is a medical insurance group that provides health services for Arizona residents for an annual fee. As far as suing an HMO in Arizona, there are strict laws and court rulings that govern lawsuits initiated by plaintiffs against HMOs.
In most cases, any injured person that attempts to sue an HMO for medical malpractice will likely be redirected to a federal court rather than a state court. However, patients are still allowed to sue the individual medical professional or medical facility for medical malpractice in state courts. As such, if you believe that your HMO was responsible at all for your injuries, an experienced medical malpractice attorney will be essential in helping you recover damages.
can still sue individual doctors for medical malpractice in Arizona courts. Thus, a person should consult with a qualified lawyer if they have questions about suing an HMO in the state of Arizona.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Arizona Medical Malpractice Laws?
If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney will be most aware of Arizona’s laws and how those laws may affect your legal rights and options.
Additionally, an attorney will also be able to advise you if punitive damages may be available in your particular case, and what parties should be brought into your lawsuit. Finally, an attorney will also be able to initiate a civil lawsuit on your behalf, and represent you in court, as needed.