What is the Utah statute of limitations
for a medical malpractice lawsuit?
First, readers who perhaps aren’t as
fluent in the language of “legalese” could probably use a little
background information. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a
limit -- almost always expressed in years -- on the amount of time
you have to file a lawsuit after you have suffered some type of loss
Like a lot of states, Utah has a
dedicated statute of limitations that applies to medical
malpractice lawsuits. This law can be found at Utah
Code section 78B-3-404, and it says, “A
malpractice action against a health care provider shall be commenced
within two years
after the plaintiff or patient discovers, or through the use of
reasonable diligence should have discovered the injury, whichever
first occurs.” So, if the
malpractice is not known of right away, the case must be filed within
two years of the date on which it is actually (or could reasonably
be) discovered by the plaintiff.
Utah’s medical malpractice statute of
limitations goes on to set a larger, catch-all deadline (known as a
“statute of repose”) declaring that no such action shall be
brought once four years have passed
since the medical
error occurred. But there are two kinds of
cases where this larger four-year deadline does not apply: those
where a foreign object was left in the patient’s body, and those
where the health care provider concealed the malpractice through
fraud. In those situations, once the existence of the malpractice
case is discovered, the plaintiff has one
year to file the lawsuit.
Having read all
of this, you may be wondering what happens if Utah’s statute of
limitations deadline has passed, but you try to file your medical
malpractice lawsuit anyway. In that situation, it’s a safe bet that
the doctor or health care facility you’re trying to sue will ask
the court to dismiss the case, and the court will grant the request.
If that happens, it marks the end of your lawsuit. So it’s easy to
see why it’s crucial to understand the
of limitations in a medical malpractice case.