Medical malpractice law in Utah is a matter of state statute and has been clearly defined on a number of occasions by the state itself. With this concrete description, it is difficult for attorneys to overturn rulings by judges that are based on statutory law. The reason that Utah is so strict in the definition and the interpretation of statutory law is because of the obvious tendency for precedent to cause an evolution in the meaning of the law. In the case of medical malpractice law in Utah, it is important for the law itself to remain strident and meaningful and to retain the interpretation that lawmakers originally intended when setting down statutory laws for the state. As more and more attorneys argue the point, it becomes clear that evolution of law is largely a byproduct of setting new precedent. With all of this new precedent in place, it can be difficult in many cases to understand the original intent of the framers of the law. Rather than circumvent what these individuals wanted for the statute itself, judges are encouraged to avoid following precedent to closely and to make rulings based on the original statutory laws set down by the state's lawmakers.
Utah State Malpractice Laws at a Glance:
Utah State Tort LawStatute of Limitations
Two years after injury was discovered, not to exceed 4 years after the act. After four years from the original injury, a suit may not be brought. In cases of foreign object or fraud, 1 year after injury was discovered, regardless of federally protected status.
Damage Award Limits Noneconomic damages for actions arising after July 1, 2002 limited to $400,000. Administrative Office of Courts adjusts this limit annually.
Joint Defendant Liability Proportionate liability for defendants. Expert Witness No provisions for witnesses.
Attorney FeesNo limit on base fees. Contingency fee may not exceed 1/3 of award.
Defining Medical Malpractice Law in Utah
The definition of medical malpractice law in Utah is one of the most concrete and least open to interpretation in the United States. While there are many states which allow constant rulings in litigation to subtly change the meaning of medical malpractice law, the state of Utah is not one of these and requires that their judiciary system take their cues from the original statutory law, rather than allow precedent to hold sway over the ruling of the court. Basically, despite what ever rulings attorneys may recently have come to be successfully argued in front of the court, it is statutory law, set down by the framers of the state constitution, which receives the lion's share of attention in court. By encouraging their strict interpretation, the evolution of the medical malpractice law in Utah has been kept to a minimum and attorneys can count on a specific set of rules and instructions in order to prosecute each and every law.
Understanding the Rights of the Plaintiff
In the case of the plaintiff, while it is true that precedent is certainly not intended to carry the day in the state of each, it does have its place in the court of law. Understanding your rights means understanding the rights of those of gone before you and it would serve the plaintiff well to understand the vagaries of their case as well as cases that are similar and have been successfully argued before the court in the past.