Idaho residents leave a small malpractice footprint on the justice system in the state. In 2015 there were just 13.6 malpractice cases per 100,000 residents. And, these cases only amounted to $8.5 million in total payouts. This puts Idaho in 45th position among all 50 states for the number of cases brought for medical malpractice.

There are some unique laws in Idaho that make the process of filing and going through a malpractice case a little different than in other states. It can be confusing, so it is crucial that patients who have malpractice claims work with Idaho medical malpractice lawyers when making a case. These professionals can guide patients through the process and ensure they have someone on their side, fighting for justice and compensation.

Idaho Medical Malpractice Laws

Because the laws governing malpractice cases can be complicated and vary by state, it is important for residents of Idaho to work with experienced and knowledgeable malpractice lawyers when filing lawsuits over medical negligence. These experts are versed in the laws and keep up with the changes and current cases that set precedents.

There are many components of the state’s malpractice laws, but some are especially important for patients to understand. Like other states, Idaho has a statute of limitations, which sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit over medical negligence. A patient has two years from the time the negligence occurred to file a case. The exception is when a foreign object is left inside the body, and the limit of two years begins when the object is discovered. For wrongful death, the two year limit begins at time of death, and for minors and those who are incompetent the limit may be extended, but never more than six years.

Other important laws include those regarding contributory negligence and immunities. In Idaho, plaintiffs in malpractice cases may be found to be partially negligent for their harm. If that negligence is greater than the defendant’s the plaintiff may not recover damages. If it is less, he or she will have damages reduced accordingly. Immunity refers to the fact that public entities, like counties and cities, and their employees are immune from negligence in most cases. This may prevent some patients from recovering damages unless the people involved acted maliciously or with criminal intent.

Laws Regarding Damages Caps

Like many states, Idaho law has capped non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases. These is no limit on how much economic damages a lawyer can seek for a client, but for damages associated with things like disfigurement, pain and suffering, or emotional trauma, there is a cap of $400,000. What makes this cap different from what other states impose is that it is adjusted every year on July 1 to reflect an increase in Idaho’s average wages. In some states, like California, the non-economic damages cap has never been adjusted for inflation.

Another unique aspect of Idaho’s non-economic damages cap is that judges in the state are given more power than those in other states to adjust a non-economic award. If the jury in a malpractice case awards the plaintiff with a certain amount, the judge has the authority to reduce it if he or she believes the amount is unjustified or unsupported by the evidence.

Prelitigation Screening in Idaho

Another unique part of medical malpractice law in Idaho is the requirement that a claim be sent to a panel before it can be filed as a malpractice lawsuit. This is called prelitigation screening, and while the decision of the panel is not considered binding, it is a necessary part of the process for anyone who wants to file a malpractice lawsuit.

The panel reviews the evidence related to the claim, listens to witnesses, and gathers additional evidence. It then decides if the case has merit or if it is frivolous. It can also decide if damages should be awarded, and if so how much. This is not a binding decision, but is considered a recommendation that can be used in a settlement and to avoid a trial.

Malpractice Cases in Idaho

Idaho medical malpractice lawyers work hard to win justice for their clients, the victims of medical negligence. Sometimes these lawsuits make big headlines, which was the case recently when a family began a lawsuit against a retired Idaho OB/GYN for what he did 40 years ago. The couple went to him for fertility treatments, and he advised artificial insemination, using the woman’s eggs and donor sperm.

Nearly 40 years later, the daughter that resulted from those treatments did a DNA test and found that the doctor was her father. The family was devastated and recently filed a lawsuit against the doctor and his former practice for medical negligence, failure to secure informed consent, infliction of emotional distress, battery, fraud, and breach of contract. The case has not yet started.

Sometimes the cases come from unexpected places, including prison. In 2017 a prisoner in the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise filed a lawsuit against the contracted healthcare provider, Corizon Health. He cited negligence because he was not provided with satisfactory medical care. The prisoner had a serious infection in his leg that was not being treated adequately, and to get transported to the hospital for care he had to resort to swallowing a razor blade.

The prisoner resorted to this desperate attempt after submitting more than a dozen requests, including five written requests, to be admitted to the hospital as his infection worsened. By the time he made it to the hospital, his leg could not be saved and had to be amputated. The man is also alleging that the severe infection resulted from negligence in that it was initially misdiagnosed and treated inappropriately.

Working with an Idaho Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Hiring the right Idaho medical malpractice lawyer when you have experienced negligence and harm in the state is crucial. The lawyer or legal team that guides you through the legal process will be your advocates and will be responsible for doing their best to get you the justice you deserve. It is essential to choose a law firm or lawyer who specializes in malpractice law because winning these cases requires a deep knowledge of the specific laws related to medical negligence.

When hiring a lawyer be sure to choose one that can show proof of experience with malpractice cases. Insist on seeing the results of past cases, references from previous clients, and evidence of knowledge of the law, experience in settlement agreements, and trial experience. With this evidence you can feel more confident that you are working with lawyers who will really be able to help you. Only a good lawyer can ensure that you have the best possible chance of getting justice and much-needed compensation for the harm you have suffered.