Arkansas Medical Malpractice: Laws, Claims and Damages
UPDATED: March 7, 2012
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ARKANSAS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
Medical malpractice suits are brought in Arkansas when a health care provider has been medically negligent. Medical negligence occurs if a health care provider injures a patient while failing to act within the governing standard of care. This standard of care is defined as one that other practitioners in the same area of medicine would follow. When a health care provider is medically negligent, the injured patient can bring an action for medical malpractice to recover any damages caused by the negligence. If you believe that an Arkansas health care provider has injured you or your dependents, you should contact an Arkansas medical malpractice attorney immediately. Because medical malpractice is a complex area of law, failure to contact an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice may affect the outcome of your claim. The following are examples of medical negligence:
- Mistakes in prescribing medication, or in filling a prescription;
- Injuries that occur during the birthing process;
- Inadequate treatment of a patient, or an ill-advised postponement of treatment;
- Unreasonable diagnosis, lack of a diagnosis when one should have been made, or the misdiagnosis of an illness, such as of cancer or a heart attack.
Who Can Be Sued in an Arkansas Medical Malpractice Case?
Any health care provider in Arkansas can be sued for medical malpractice. A health care provider is any individual or entity that is certified, licensed, or authorized to provide health care services. This includes, but is not limited to, doctors, dentists, nurses, psychologists, hospitals, and assisted living facilities. If you believe that you have been injured by an Arkansas health care provider, but are not sure if they qualify as such, an Arkansas medical malpractice attorney will be able to provide you with this information.
Arkansas Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
To recover monetary damages for a medical malpractice claim, you must file a suit within Arkansas’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the period of time in which a claim can be brought. In Arkansas, if a minor under nine years of age has been injured as a result of the medically negligent actions of a health care provider, the claim may be brought any time before the minor reaches the age of eleven. Otherwise, the statute of limitations to file a claim for any other medical malpractice suit is within two years of the date of the injury.
If you do not file the claim within the Arkansas statute of limitations, the claim will be barred, and you can no longer recover monetary damages for your injury. To avoid missing the statute of limitations deadline, you should contact an Arkansas medical malpractice attorney as soon as you discover the injury.
Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims in Arkansas
While monetary damages are available in medical malpractice claims, Arkansas limits the amount of punitive damages a plaintiff can recover. Punitive damages are available to the injured plaintiff if the health care provider caused the injury maliciously or willfully. Arkansas limits punitive damages to either $250,000 per plaintiff, or three times the actual damages awarded, but in no case may the award exceed $1,000,000.
Aside from punitive damages, an injured plaintiff can recover economic and noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Economic damages are lost wages, damages to property, and any medical bills the plaintiff incurs because of the injury. Noneconomic damages include losses that are hard to measure monetarily, such as loss of consortium or companionship, and pain and suffering.
As a benchmark for damages, the Arkansas Constitution provides that monetary damages in wrongful death cases should be awarded in accordance with the injustice suffered. Because of this open guideline, an Arkansas medical malpractice attorney can help you determine the specific amount of damages available to you in your case.
Filing an Arkansas Medical Malpractice Claim
If you believe that you have been injured at the hands of a medically negligent health care provider, you may file a medical malpractice claim against them. Because a medical malpractice suit is complex, and often entails hiring expert witnesses, taking depositions of those witnesses, and dealing with experienced attorneys who are hired to defend a health care provider, you should contact an Arkansas medical malpractice attorney to assist you in filing your claim. Failing to meet deadlines or ineffectively negotiating or litigating a medical malpractice claim can result in the loss of otherwise recoverable monetary damages.
Arkansas Medical Malpractice Laws
- Practice Procedure and Courts: Malpractice Actions: Definitions. Title 16, Chp.114, § 201.
- Practice Procedure and Courts: Malpractice Actions: Statute of Limitations. Title 16, Chp.114, § 203.
- Practice Procedure and Courts: Malpractice Actions: Allegation of Damages. Title 16, Chp.114, § 205.
- Practice Procedure and Courts: Malpractice Actions: Limitations on the Amount of Punitive Damages. Title 16, Chp.114, § 208.
- Practice Procedure and Courts: Malpractice Actions: Damages Awards – Periodic Payment of Future Damages. Title 16, Chp.114, § 208.