Medical Malpractice in Arkanasas
Statute of Limitations: 2 Years, 2 Years for Minors (beginning at age 11)
Discovery: 1 Year from Discovery on Foreign Objects left inside a person’s body, 2 Years for Minors
Liability Rules: Modified Comparative Negligence
Limits: None (awards exceeding $100,000
may be broken into periodic payments)
What You Should Know
If a patient is harmed before, during or after a medical treatment or procedure, or due to lack of treatment, they may qualify for medical malpractice. Each state has their own set of time limits and exceptions or rules on when and how a medical malpractice case may be filed. Below we cover a general outline of what you need to know in the case of filing a medical malpractice in the state of Arkansas.
Statute of Limitations
A Statute of Limitations is a deadline or time period in which you have to file a medical malpractice case. In Arkansas, a patient has two years to file a medical malpractice case from the date of the injury. Before we get into any of the exceptions of filing a civil claim, let us first cover what must first be established or able to be proven in order to file a claim:
- The physician or health care provider owed the given patient any ‘duty’. For example, further treatment, alternate care, guidance, etc.
- The standard of care for the given illness or ailment failed to be met. Each surgery or treatment has a set of conditions, or standards, that must be met in order to be considered acceptable, or at the most basic level, complete.
- There is a compensable injury. Unfortunately not all injuries are compensable. A worst case scenario for medical malpractice is fatality. However, if there are reconcilable damage to the patient that can be rectified to some degree, that will help in filing a claim.
- Lastly, not only does it have to be proven that the standard of care was breached, but also that it was the cause of harm or damage to the patient. For example, if indeed a doctor did neglect the standard of care for a given treatment, but that was not the cause of harm or injury to the patient, it may not be enough to open a case.
The discovery rule is a rule in which allots time for a patient to file a malpractice claim depending on when they found out, or discovered, they were neglected by their doctor or health care provider or did not receive standard of care. The discovery rule in Arkansas only applies to foreign objects. A foreign object is considered any tool or object that was unintentionally left inside of a person’s body. This could be anything from medical scissors to a surgical sponge. If a patient should find they are dealing with foreign object malpractice, they have one year to file. This year may start either at the date of discovery or the date that it could have reasonably been discovered.
For minors — anyone under the age of eighteen — in the state of Arkansas, they have until their eleventh birthday to file a malpractice claim, or two years from the date of malpractice having believed to have occurred. In the case where the malpractice was not discovered and could not have reasonably been discovered until a date or time exceeding the two year limit, the parent or guardian has two years to file a minor malpractice claim, or up until their nineteenth birthday, whichever comes first.
In almost all states there needs to be an expert on the particular treatment that did not meet standard of care in order to prove so. In other words, there needs to be someone that specializes in the treatment that was neglected in some manner in order to prove that it was the fault of the treating physician or health care provider. The expert cannot simply be someone that is knowledgeable on the matter, though. They must be an active or practicing professional.
Modified Comparative Negligence
This third-party expert opinion and input is required so that it can be determined if the pain or harm is either solely at the fault of the treating physician or health care provider, or if it may be in some part due to negligence of the patient. The patient may be partially or fully at fault if they refused recommended pre- or post-treatment care, or if they were properly diagnosed and did nothing about it. In Arkansas, if the patient is found to be partially at fault they fall under “modified comparative negligence.” This means that whatever percentage the patient is found to be at fault, an equivalent percentage is the amount in which their compensation is deducted by. For example, if a patient is owed $10,000 for medical malpractice, and they are found to be 50% at fault, they will only receive $5,000.
Damage Cap and Future Awards
There is no cap on how much damage can be reconciled or compensated in Arkansas. There is, however, a rule that if future awards are to exceed $100,000 that they be paid in periodic payments as opposed to a lump sum payment.
As you can see, there is a lot of information necessary to understand before even filing a medical malpractice case. It is, no doubt, a daunting endeavor; however, receiving just compensation or rectifying damage for the sake of you or your family’s health should be a top priority. It is best to seek an experienced team of attorneys to assist in filing a civil claim such as medical malpractice.
How Can We Help You?
If you or a loved one have been injured in the state of Arkansas, contact us at 432.570.1919 or email us using the form below for your free, no-obligation consultation. The Buckingham Barrera Law Firm has helped thousands of people in multiple states get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.