Mistakes can be made by medical professionals at the time of delivery which can lead to permanent and sometimes life-altering injuries. When this happens, you need a Utah birth injury lawyer to hold the doctors and insurance companies responsible for the errors that permanently affect your child’s life. In this article, we’ll go over the appropriate steps to take following the delivery that caused your child’s injury as well as the injuries and conditions most commonly caused by medical malpractice.
We’re experts in birth injury law and can help you get compensated. Our personal injury lawyers serve the entire state of Utah including Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden, and St George. We’ll give you a free consultation on your birth injury law case.
Injuries and Conditions Resulting from Medical Malpractice
There are a wide range of short and long-term injuries that can be the result of negligent or sub-par medical treatment. We have listed some of the most common birth injuries below:
Cerebral Palsy is one of the permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. This chronic condition is caused by an injury to the brain shortly after or during birth. The signs and symptoms vary with different people over time but will likely include stiff muscles, poor coordination, weak muscles, and tremors. These symptoms contribute to your child’s motor development and speech. A child with this disorder may also experience sensory issues with vision, hearing, and speaking.
Erb’s Palsy is a nerve condition in the shoulder and arm that results in weakness or loss of muscle function. Palsy is another name for partial or complete loss of muscle function. Newborns sometimes develop Erb’s palsy during a difficult vaginal delivery or during a cesarean section.
Sometimes during the delivery, in order to make room for the baby’s shoulders, the healthcare provider must move the baby’s head. In certain cases, this act can stretch or even tear nerves, causing damage.
Spinal Cord Trauma
A spinal cord birth injury can happen when a doctor or nurse strains a child’s neck by twisting, pulling, or using tools to remove the baby from the birth canal. A spinal cord injury disrupts the connection of
nerves between the body and the brain. These injuries can range from mild to very severe. Babies with spinal cord injuries will show symptoms of paralysis or weakness. Injuries of this nature can occur at any location along the spine.
The most common type of brain damage in newborns happens when the baby’s brain doesn’t get enough oxygen or blood flow over a long amount of time. While a child may be able to completely recover from some mild forms of brain damage, severe cases will likely require lifelong medical treatment.
Can Medical Mistakes Lead to Cerebral Palsy?
When medical staff fail to follow the proper medical procedures during the delivery of a baby, the child could suffer a brain injury resulting in cerebral palsy. This condition will not only limit your child’s ability to function fully and independently throughout their life but will also incur substantial medical expenses over time.
If you believe your child or loved one may have been injured at birth by a medical mistake that could have been prevented, contacting a cerebral palsy lawyer can help you determine if you have legal grounds for compensation.
What to do After a Birth Injury
The birth of your child should be one of the most joyous and beautiful moments of your life. But when something goes wrong to permanently affect the health of that child and you feel it could have been avoided, what exactly do you do? We’ve compiled some guidelines to help protect your rights as well as ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
Contact an Attorney
Hiring an attorney right away is extremely important if you see your child showing signs of a birth injury such as cerebral palsy. The hospital and its insurance company are experienced in protecting themselves with no real interest for your child. However, an attorney will put their focus on protecting your family’s future.
Don’t Take a Settlement
Oftentimes, the hospital or their insurance company will offer you a settlement early on in the game. Don’t accept it. Their offer will likely be a low amount in an attempt to appease you and your family. Typically, their first offer won’t take into consideration the lifelong care your child will likely need. Don’t sign anything until you’ve met with an attorney.
Be sure to hold onto any information you receive in regard to the childbirth and any related medical bills. This includes receipts, medical bills, witness statements, and any other appropriate documentation. Your attorney will use this information to build a compelling case and prove the full extent of your child’s injuries.
Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit in Utah
People often wonder if there’s a statute of limitations when it comes to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Utah. The answer is yes, you have 2 years after the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. If you feel negligence or malpractice caused injury to your child at birth, it’s best to take legal action as soon as possible. The more time you wait, the more difficult it will be to prove your case which will ultimately affect the outcome.
Birth Injury vs Birth Defects
It can be difficult and confusing for people to differentiate between what constitutes a birth defect as compared to a birth injury. To determine whether or not you have a case, it’s crucial that you understand the difference. Below is a list of detailed distinctions between the two:
- The result of medical malpractice
- Physical injury to an infant’s brain, organs, or bones
- Caused during the birthing process
- Result of natural causes
- The defect is caused by a congenital issue or is genetic
- Not caused during the birthing process
If you feel your child’s issue or injury could have been avoided with the proper medical care or was the result of negligence, contact a Utah birth injury lawyer right away.
Utah Birth Injury Law Guide Conclusion
If you feel your child has a birth injury that could have been prevented by the doctors and nurses, contacting an experienced Utah birth injury lawyer is the most important action you can take. The skilled legal team at Harris, Preston, and Chambers has years of experience counseling families and parents on whether legal action should be taken to seek monetary compensation. Our lawyers work to explain the process to you in a way that can be easily understood. We want you to feel comfortable making decisions you feel are best for your family.
We know that each case is unique and that the most positive outcomes stem from the individual attention we give each case. Our staff knows how difficult dealing with a birth injury of your child can be and we want to help. Don’t try to walk this path alone. Contact the attorneys at Harris, Preston, and Chambers today to get your free consultation.
Whether you’re riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, wearing a helmet can protect you from major injuries. However, Utah helmet laws don’t apply to every motorcyclist or bicyclist. Wondering whether or not you need to wear a helmet? Read our guide to learn who must wear a helmet as well as what the Utah helmet law penalties are.
If you live in Utah and need a Utah personal injury lawyer, we’ll give you a free consultation. We serve the entire state from Logan to Salt Lake to St George.
Helmet Laws in Utah
There is no federal law regarding helmet use. Because of this, each state has its own helmet laws. Some states, such as California, require all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of age. Utah motorcycle helmet law states that if you are under the age of 21, you are required to wear a helmet. This law came into effect in 2017. Previously, helmet laws in Utah applied only to riders under the age of 18. However, because the brains of young adults are still developing, the law was updated to protect those under 21.
Utah motorcycle helmet law applies to more than just motorcycles. If you are under the age of 21 and driving on the highway on one of the following kinds of vehicles, you must wear a helmet:
- Motor-driven cycle
- Class 3 electric-assisted bicycle
- An autocycle that isn’t enclosed
In order to comply with Utah helmet laws, you’ll need to make sure you are wearing a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation, or DOT. DOT-approved helmets have undergone rigorous testing to ensure their efficacy in protecting you. When shopping for helmets, make sure to look for the DOT-approved stamp.
Bicycle Helmet Law in Utah
Utah helmet laws apply to motorcycles, scooters, and electric bicycles. However, there is no bicycle helmet law in Utah for typical bicycles. Still, wearing a helmet is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from a major injury. Bicycle accidents happen when you’re least expecting it, and a helmet will absorb much of the force of the crash.
Utah Helmet Law Penalties
Now that you know about helmet laws in Utah, you’re probably wondering what the penalty is for not complying with the law. If you’re riding a motorcycle, scooter, or electric bike on the highway without a helmet and you are under the age of 21, you could be fined up to $750. To put this into perspective, a speeding ticket for driving between 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit is $150. The penalty for not wearing a helmet may be hefty, but its purpose is to protect young adults from serious brain injury.
Utah Helmet Law Summary
In summary, if you are under the age of 21, you must wear a helmet on the highway when driving a motorcycle, scooter, or electric bicycle. If you are caught in violation of the law, you may be fined up to $750 in penalties.
If you’ve been penalized for riding without a helmet, you may want to hire a lawyer to fight or reduce the fine. Contact the lawyers at Harrison, Preston, & Chambers today to get started.
If your loved one has been injured or killed in a personal injury accident, you’ve likely suffered emotional damages and faced many challenges because of the accident. If these losses are severe and the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be considering a loss of consortium claim. But what exactly is loss of consortium? Who’s entitled to a loss of consortium claim? And how are damages calculated?
Read on to learn more about loss of consortium and how Harris, Preston, & Chambers can help you with your claim.
What is Loss of Consortium?
In the state of Utah, if your spouse or child has been injured or killed in an accident, you may be able to make a loss of consortium claim. Loss of consortium essentially means you have lost a significant part of your relationship with the victim of the accident. In most cases, the claim is only awarded if the injured party is significantly and permanently injured or has died as a result of the accident.
Some people think of loss of consortium only in the context of losing out on sexual intimacy with your spouse. And while this is one of the contexts of loss of consortium, it isn’t the only one. Marriage and family life is so much more than just physical intimacy. If your spouse or child has been severely injured so that they can no longer participate in family outings, bike riding, helping care for your children, etc., you may have a loss of consortium case.
Some examples of loss of consortium include:
- Financial issues because of the accident have caused strain on the relationship between spouses.
- Inability to participate in activities together, such as hiking, bike riding, traveling, etc.
- Loss of sexual relationship.
- Loss of companionship of the injured or killed spouse or child.
- Reproductive injuries that cause the inability to have children.
- The inability of a spouse to help with the care of children.
- Lost wages when missing work to care for the injured spouse or child.
Loss of Consortium Claim and How It’s Calculated
Loss of consortium is considered a non-economic damage. Quantifying the loss in terms of money is more of an art than a science. Oftentimes, it’s left up to the judge or jury to determine the specific amount. Every case is different, so there is no set amount you should expect to receive. The personal injury attorney you choose to represent you, however, can make a big difference in the amount you might receive.
In general, loss of consortium claims are calculated by considering:
- The age of the injured spouse or child
- The age of the non-injured spouse or parent
- The length of the relationship
- The quality of the relationship
A marriage/domestic partnership that is shorter will, in general, receive less compensation than a longer marriage. If the injured party and the person bringing forward the loss of consortium claim are estranged, the likelihood of receiving compensation is much less.
What It Means for You
Utah law specifies who can bring forward a loss of consortium claim. If you’re the spouse, parent, or domestic partner of the injured person, you may be entitled to compensation from the defendant.
One thing to note is that your loss of consortium claim will be linked to your spouse or child’s personal injury or wrongful death claim. If their case is successful, yours is too. And if their case fails, your claim will too.
Loss of Consortium Limits
As with all types of personal injury claims, there are limits to loss of consortium claims. The statute of limitations applies to loss of consortium claims as it does to all other personal injury cases. For most personal injury cases, you have four years from the day to the accident to file your claim.
In Utah, only spouses (including common law spouses), domestic partners, or parents can file a loss of consortium claim. The fiancé/fiancée or girlfriend/boyfriend of the injured party cannot file a claim for loss of consortium, even if their relationship is severely impacted by the accident.
The amount awarded may be limited by the insurance company. Most insurance liability policies limit claims to “single incidents,” meaning the insurance will only pay out up to a certain amount per incident. Because of this, some loss of consortium claims are treated as separate incidents.
Things to Consider
Before filing your claim, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. Because your relationship with your spouse or child is so central to the amount you’re awarded, be prepared to have all your dirty laundry aired. In fact, one of the things you’ll have to prove is that you have a valid marriage, common law marriage, or domestic partnership.
Another thing to remember is that when the case goes to trial, everything presented will become part of public record. You may be subject to grueling questioning in front of the judge and jury in regards to all aspects of the relationship, both in depositions and at the trial. You’ll need to decide if you can handle the rigorous and public nature of a loss of consortium claim.
If you’d like to know whether or not you have a loss of consortium claim, give Harris, Preston, & Chambers a call. We serve clients in the Salt Lake Valley and all throughout Utah. We’ll use our expertise to prove your loss of consortium claim and help you receive the max compensation. Call today for a free consultation!
Being in a car accident can be a terrifying and traumatic experience. But what happens when your car gets totaled after an accident? If your car is damaged to the point it isn’t driveable, it will need to be towed from the scene of the accident. This can certainly add an extra level of stress to the situation. So let’s look at the details involved if your car is totaled and learn the most efficient steps to take that can eliminate some of your worry.
What Happens if Your Car is Totaled?
When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, it’s considered “totaled” if the cost to repair your vehicle is more than the actual value of the car. When your car is so badly damaged that it is an obvious total loss, a tow truck will take your vehicle to the tow yard. But it isn’t always an obvious total loss in which case your vehicle will be taken to a body shop for the repairs to be estimated. If the repairs are more than what the car is worth, it will be taken to the salvage yard. If you have insurance, they will pay you for what they believe the car is worth in exchange for the car title. The insurance company now owns your car and decides whether to sell it for parts as scrapped metal.
Car Towed After an Accident Without Permission
If your car was towed without your permission after an accident, odds are you were incapacitated when the tow truck arrived. When this happens, you aren’t able to give specific instructions to the tow driver and can be frustrating. In this case, the police at the scene will have your car towed to the nearest salvage yard by the towing company that is first on their list. However, if you are competent enough after your accident to communicate with the authorities and towing company, here are a few important things to remember:
Take pictures of the accident at the scene
Using your phone to document the inside and outside of your vehicle from multiple angles as well as taking pics of the other vehicles involved can be used as evidence for your insurance claim. Taking pictures of any damage to the road or skid marks may also prove useful.
Exchange insurance information
Don’t leave the scene of the accident before you’ve exchanged and gathered insurance information from the other drivers involved. Speaking to any witnesses and either recording their statements or taking notes may be very important down the road.
Find an auto body shop you trust
This isn’t always possible if your accident is in unfamiliar territory. But if possible, having the name and number of the repair shop you would like to receive your vehicle puts you in control and will give you peace of mind.
Remove valuables and personal belongings from your vehicle
Once your car is towed, you may not have access to it for quite some time. Take all your belongings with you. This includes any important documents and paperwork.
Get in touch with your insurance company
If you’ve been in an accident, you’ll have to contact your insurance company. The sooner you can get the ball rolling the better. If your insurance company requires you to use a specific towing company or has other detailed terms, you’ll benefit from knowing what your policy covers right out of the gate.
Get paperwork from the tow truck driver
Make sure you get some kind of documentation or receipt from the tow truck driver. Knowing how much you are being charged, what fees are involved, along with where they’re taking your vehicle, will be very important knowledge for you to have.
Who Pays for the Towing Costs After a Crash?
The answer to this question will largely depend on if you have insurance and the terms of your policy. If your insurance policy includes collision coverage, they will typically cover towing and storage fees. Pay attention to the terms defined in your insurance policy closely so you won’t be caught off guard and end up having to pay costs out of your own pocket. Often, insurance companies will cover “reasonable” towing fees. This implies that your insurance company will set the terms of how many storage days they will cover.
Where Do Tow Trucks Take Your Car After an Accident?
It can be extremely unnerving to not know where your car has been taken after an accident. If you were badly injured during the accident and are being treated by emergency medical responders or you aren’t capable of speaking with the tow truck driver, your car will be taken to the towing company’s tow yard or their repair shop. Your car will remain there until either you or your insurance company notifies the tow truck driver where to take it.
If you weren’t significantly injured at the scene of the accident, speak with the tow truck driver and let him know which auto body shop you would like your vehicle directly taken to. Having your vehicle towed directly to the repair shop will save you from spending money on storage and other fees associated with a trip to the towing yard before the repair shop. If you have a body shop you prefer, communicate that to them, if not, they will recommend one for you.
Cost to Have Your Car Towed After an Accident
Having your car towed can add up to be quite painful for your wallet. It takes roughly an hour for a tow truck to show up at the scene of your accident, load up your car, then tow it. This process can take much longer if your vehicle has rolled or is stuck. Towing companies charge around $150/hr to tow your car but that’s just the beginning. They will also charge around $30 for administrative fees and $50/day just to store your vehicle.
How Long is the Car at the Tow Yard?
Each towing company does things a little bit differently. However, most will allow your vehicle to sit in their tow yard for around 90 days before starting the process to impound your vehicle. Once the towing company receives the vehicle title from the city, the towing company can salvage your vehicle.
Is a Car Totaled if the Airbags Deploy?
Even though people often believe a crash that is severe enough to set off the airbags will typically cause enough damage to total your car, that isn’t always the case. Airbags are designed to go off only in moderate to severe collisions because they can cause injury when going off in a low-speed collision. But sometimes airbags are defective for a variety of reasons and don’t deploy even in the most severe instances. Bottom line is, airbags aren’t always the most definitive qualifier when determining if a car is totaled or not. A lot of other factors could be at play.
What Happens When Your Car Gets Totaled After an Accident Conclusion
Being involved in an accident can be devastating. Dealing with insurance and towing companies can be extremely daunting and difficult. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Utah, the attorneys at Harris, Preston, and Chambers can help. We know what you’re going through. We have years of experience when it comes to handling traffic collision cases and can help you get reimbursed for medical bills, lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering, and more.
Utah is a beautiful state with diverse landscapes and climates. However, along with the unique beauty of the state, there are a variety of dangerous animals in Utah. From mountains perfect for hiking and camping to the majestic national parks near the southern portion of the state, there is endless territory to explore. While it’s tempting to snap a close-up pic of the many animals and reptiles found throughout the state, proceed with caution. If you plan on exploring the great outdoors of Utah, knowing the wild creatures you’re likely to encounter is a great place to start.
Dangerous Wildlife in Utah
Utah is the thirteenth largest state in the country, covering 84, 914 square miles. The state comprises three major geographic regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Basin and Ridge Region, and the Colorado Plateau. These areas include animals such as the Rocky Mountain elk, Desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, and mountain lions just to name a few.
Some of the wildlife causing the most injuries and deaths in the state of Utah may very much surprise you. It isn’t always the lions, tigers, and bears that you need to be afraid of.
Poisonous Animals in Utah
When you think about what animals in Utah are poisonous, you would probably expect a fairly short list. However, taking into consideration the various snakes, lizards, spiders, and insects that have poisonous venom, the list is a hefty one. Scorpions, rattlesnakes, brown recluse spiders, blister beetles, and the hobo spider are just a few of the poisonous creatures found in the Beehive state.
10 Most Dangerous Animals in Utah
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most dangerous animals you might encounter in Utah. Starting with the most dangerous and working the way down, these animals are the ones to be cautious of:
American Black Bear
You may be surprised to hear that there are over 4000 black bears living in the state of Utah. While these large predators won’t attack humans as food, they will charge the moment they feel threatened, especially if their cubs are involved. Bear attacks in Utah are rare but when they do happen, they cause severe injury and even death.
There can be quite a bit of confusion around what to do if you do encounter a black bear. We used to believe that playing dead or curling into the fetal position was the safest way to defend oneself. However, the best thing is to stand your ground. Don’t back away or lie down. Remain calm and see if the bear chooses to ignore your presence and move on.
Never run away or climb a tree because chances are the bear is a better climber and faster runner than you are. Always hike and camp with bear spray that is easily accessible.
Moose can seem harmless due to their wide bodies and large antlers, not to mention the way they are portrayed in cartoon form. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. They appear grand and serene when spotted in the
wild but should never be approached. Moose are extremely aggressive and move much faster than you might think. Too many people assume they are friendly and either want to get a closer look or try to pet them like a horse. If you happen to encounter a moose in the wild, keep your distance and look for signs of aggression. This would include lowering their head as if to charge, licking their snout, and noticing if their ears are pinned back. Moose attacks result in being stomped or sat on and being gored by their antlers. It never ends pretty. It’s also important to note that Moose are aggravated by dogs. So leave your furry friends at home when in Utah moose territory.
If you live in Utah, you know the dreaded sound of a rattle and a hiss along a hiking trail. Even though rattlesnakes try to remain illusive when it comes to humans, once you enter their habitat, all bets are off. They thrive in the dry, arid Utah climate and in seasons of drought are drawn to more residential areas to find water.
While rattlesnake bites are rare, it’s smart to know how to react if you come upon one in the wild. A snake will strike when it feels cornered or threatened. Keep your distance and give it its space. Poking or throwing things at it will provoke it and things might not end well. The venom rattlesnakes produce can cause long-term damage to your brain and nervous system. If you’re bitten, seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
Mountain lion sightings in Utah are rare. Lucky for us, they do their best to avoid humans. Still, when they feel we are a threat in any way, they can pose quite a threat. If you come upon a cougar in the wild, the best thing you can do is make yourself appear as large and intimidating as possible. This involves speaking in a firm and loud tone and raising your arms above your head. Do not run away. This triggers their instinctive response to prey and may cause them to chase and attack.
Black Widow Spider
There are few spiders that strike fear in humans as intensely as the black widow. Typically arachnids don’t become bothersome by entering your home until fall. However, they can still pose a threat during the summer months if encountered doing yardwork or during outdoor recreation. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to this spider’s venom. At least the black widow is fairly easy to recognize by the distinctive red hourglass marking on the bottom side of their abdomen and shiny black appearance. Only adult female widow spiders pose a threat. Males have smaller venom glands and fangs, making it more difficult to penetrate human skin. If you suspect you’ve been bitten, call the Utah Poison Control Center or see a doctor.
The Gila monster is a venomous lizard native to Southern Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and parts of California. It’s the only venomous lizard native to the United States. This lizard is easily recognized by its black and yellow or black and pink beaded skin pattern and is generally around 2 feet long. Because they spend 95% of their time underground or burrowing under rocks, spotting a Gila monster is a rare experience. They are most active during morning hours in the spring or towards the beginning of summer. While they are sluggish and not usually aggressive, you should avoid handling them. They have quick reflexes and can attack very suddenly. A Gila monster’s venom is extremely toxic, similar to that of a rattlesnake. If bitten, seek medical attention immediately.
Coyotes can be found throughout the United States and are quite commonly found in Utah. They adapt to a wide range of habitats, including suburban neighborhoods, urban cities, deserts, grasslands, and forests. They feed on small mammals, reptiles, birds, grasses, and fruit. Coyotes are seldomly a danger to humans but tend to seek out your trash and pet food supply. They may also think your pet is food.
To deter coyotes, fence your yard and supply a secure shelter for your pets or farm animals. Actively discourage coyotes from your property by installing strobe lights and sirens to scare them away. And keep in mind that if you encounter a coyote in the wild, make as much noise as possible, never approach them directly, stomp your feet, and throw rocks or sticks at them if necessary to scare them away.
The mosquito is certainly the most common creature on this list. Obviously, the thing that makes mosquitoes so dangerous is the variety of diseases they carry and transmit. Among the most serious are the West Nile Virus and two forms of encephalitis. Lucky for you, mosquitoes may be swarming in Utah in the summer but once the cooler weather rolls in, they aren’t an issue.
Raccoons are cute and cuddly and other than getting into your trash and making a mess can’t be dangerous, right? Well, these animals have extremely sharp teeth and claws and can become very aggressive. This is a problem because they carry rabies which can be fatal if you aren’t vaccinated for it. They have also been known to attack adults, children, and pets and inflict significant harm.
If you are approached by a raccoon or happen to encounter one, break eye contact and slowly walk away. If they continue to approach or become aggressive, make yourself appear as large as possible. Waver your arms in the air, stand tall, and yell loudly if necessary.
Scorpions may be small but their sting is certainly painful. One scorpion sting can cause excruciating pain, numbness of the body, swelling, and vomiting. Symptoms can last anywhere from 1-3 days. Most scorpions in
Utah are found in the deserts of Southern Utah. They are nocturnal creatures and hide out during the day. If you are bitten by a scorpion, stay
calm, clean the area, use a cold compress on the affected area, then call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Who is Liable for Wild Animal Attacks?
When a wild animal attacks, it can leave the person involved with serious injuries. Unlike domestic animal attacks, such as a dog bite, it can be complicated to determine who is liable, if anyone. If a wild animal was under someone’s care at the time of the attack, there may be a possibility of pursuing compensation for injuries or health concerns. There may have been negligence or lack of restraint when dealing with potentially dangerous animals.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Utah Conclusion
If you’ve been injured due to an interaction with a dangerous animal, the attorneys at Harris, Preston, and Chambers can help. They will review your situation and help you know if it’s worth pursuing your case or not. With all the various dangerous creatures living in the state of Utah, it’s certainly a good idea to be aware of the wildlife around you and how to protect yourself. We serve all of Utah including Salt Lake City, Logan, St George, and Ogden. Contact us to get your free consultation.
With recent numbers going up when it comes to unlawful sexual conduct prosecutions, people have questions concerning the Utah age of consent laws. The age of consent refers to the minimum age for which an individual is legally old enough to consent or agree to sexual activities. These kinds of sexual conduct crimes are seldom committed by strangers. Most of these allegations are against a neighbor, trusted family friend, teacher, co-worker, babysitter, or merely an acquaintance. These criminal charges can carry serious consequences in Utah so it’s important to understand the laws and penalties associated.
What is the age of consent in Utah?
In the state of Utah, the age of consent is 18 years old. The crime occurs when an adult has unlawful sexual conduct with a minor who is either 16 or 17 years of age. The sexual conduct wouldn’t be considered a crime except for the statute states that the child is too young to consent.
Romeo and Juliet Law Utah
In Utah, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption named after the young lovers in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” play. This exemption is intended to prevent serious charges against teenagers who engage in consensual sex with others close to their own age. The Romeo and Juliet exemption are for minors who are close in age but one party is a minor. However, the defendant is fewer than 7 or 10 years older than the minor.
This means that if there was actual consent and both are within three years of age, then one could plead that as an affirmative defense. The defendant would then have to prove that the sexual conduct was completely consensual. With that said, teens who engage in consensual sexual acts can still face criminal charges for unlawful adolescent sexual activity. This is the case even if both parties involved are minors.
Mistake of Age and Statutory Rape
In the state of Utah, it’s against the law for someone over 18 years old to have sex with a minor, even if the sex is consensual. This is considered statutory rape. Even though statutory rape doesn’t require proof of assault, it’s still rape. Defendants accused of statutory rape often claim that they didn’t know their sexual partner was underage. They may even argue that the victim misrepresented his or her age as older than they were. But under most circumstances, a mistake of age is not a defense to a statutory rape charge.
If the victim was above the age of 16, (17) then a defendant can use the defense that he or she reasonably believed the minor was 18 years of age at the time the incident happened.
What is unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in Utah?
Unlawful sexual activity with a minor includes intercourse, penetration, or oral sex between a minor who is 14-15 years old and a defendant who is 18 or older. If the defendant was less than 4 years older than the minor, the offense is considered a class B misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1000, or both. However, if the defendant is more than 4 years older than the minor, the offense is a third-degree felony which can be up to 5 years in prison, a hefty fine of $5000, or both.
Possible charges under Utah rape law
Statutory rape laws and penalties are determined by the ages of both the defendant and victim as well as the circumstances of the crime. Third-degree rape is a class C felony with a maximum prison sentence of up to 5 years in prison. If the minor is under 14, the charges are considered a Class B felony, or second-degree felony.
If however, the minor is 12 years old, the defendant can be charged with rape in the first degree which is the same as a Class A felony. A first-degree rape charge can also take place even if the person is 18 years or older but is incapable of consent. This could be because of physical helplessness, mental defense, or mental incapacitation.
Penalties for each law
- Rape of a child who is 13 or younger and the defendant is 18 or older is a first-degree felony and is punishable by at least 6 years (and up to life) in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
- Unlawful sexual conduct involving only touching is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of as much as $2500, or both. Otherwise, the offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $5000, or both.
- Unlawful sexual activity with a minor includes intercourse, penetration, or oral sex between a 14-15 year old minor and a
defendant who is 18 or older. If the defendant was fewer than 4 years older than the victim, it’s a class B misdemeanor. Otherwise, the offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $5000, or both.
Possible defenses for a Utah rape charge
- If the mental ability to consent isn’t due to the minor’s age, meaning the person is older than 18 and has a mental defect, that person may raise a defense that they did not know of the mental condition or that the victim was mentally unable to consent.
- In a case of statutory rape or rape in the third degree, it doesn’t work as a defense for the defendant to say he didn’t know the age of the child if the victim was under 16 years of age. This can however be a defense if the victim was 17 and the defendant reasonably believed he or she was 18 or older.
- The mental capacity of the person charged with the rape can also be a defense if his or her ability to know whether or not the other party had consented to the sexual activity or not.
Criminal procedure when charged with a rape crime
The criminal process can be complex and difficult for most individuals to navigate. The average person just doesn’t understand how criminal procedure works. For this reason, it’s best to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assist in your defense or mitigating circumstances.
The initial criminal process in a rape case involves proceedings where individuals are read their charges as well as their rights. The court may also determine whether or not they feel the defendant should be detained due to the danger he or she may pose to the community. This may include imposing a bond amount.
There will then be a proceeding to determine if there is enough evidence in the case to hold a trial. The State and the Defendant go through a process where all evidence gathered by the State is disclosed. This may include police reports, interviews, rape kits, witness statements, DNA kits, recordings, text messages, social media communication, and video evidence. The Defendant also discloses any evidence they may have acquired for their defense at this time.
Experts may be brought in to testify of the validity of the rape kit used during the investigation and to help determine if there was indeed consent.
Conclusion: Utah Age of Consent Laws
At Harris, Preston, and Chambers, we understand the severity of sexual consent cases and how traumatic they can be for everyone involved. Reach out to our firm today for a consultation on what our criminal defense team can do to help. Our
An experienced law firm can often negotiate with the prosecutor resulting in a reduction of penalties or a lesser charge. If you or a loved one are facing a statutory rape charge, you’ll need excellent representation to walk the path with you.
With all the distractions facing drivers these days, the chances of a person being hit by a car in Utah are definitely on the rise. If you’re involved in a pedestrian accident, it’s important to know what to do next according to Utah laws. Being aware of how injuries and damages are compensated as well as the basic rules of fault is extremely important.
However, avoiding this kind of highly dangerous accident in the first place should be your number one priority. Obviously, an accident involving two vehicles is scary but it’s no surprise that injuries and even fatalities can result at a higher rate when a vehicle collides with an actual person.
If you live in Utah and have been involved in a pedestrian car accident, we can help. Click the button below to get your free legal consultation.
What should you do right after a pedestrian accident?
No matter what kind of accident you’re involved in, it’s natural to be flustered and upset. In this state of mind, it can be difficult to remain calm and handle the situation in the safest manner. However, there are some basic steps to follow that can be useful and even save lives.
1. Get Everyone to Safety
Before you do anything else, make certain anyone injured is taken to a place of safety. Don’t attempt to administer medical treatment beyond the basic requirements of CPR. Call for medical help and stay with the pedestrian until help arrives. Do not move them if they are seriously injured or unconscious.
2. Call the Police
If you’ve hit a pedestrian, call the police. This step is required by law in most states. It’s also imperative that you never leave the scene of the accident until after they have arrived. Doing so could be considered a hit-and-run and could lead to serious legal consequences involving criminal charges.
3. Document the Accident
Documenting the details of the accident while they are fresh in your mind is very important. This information will be extremely useful when it comes to filing an insurance claim. Here are a few of the most vital pieces of information to take note of:
- Name and badge number of the police officers at the scene
- Time, date, location, road, and weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Your version of how the accident happened
- Contact information of the pedestrian as well as any witnesses to the accident
- Take several photos of the accident scene such as vehicle damages, injuries, and road marks left by vehicles
4. Don’t Discuss Fault
No doubt you may be in a state of shock after hitting a pedestrian. However, remaining calm and in control is very important. You may not have a full understanding of all the facts and may end up assuming liability for an accident that wasn’t your fault. Be careful what you say and don’t apologize or admit it was your fault. Avoid talking extensively with the pedestrian or their friends and family members. There is the possibility that the police and insurance company will find the pedestrian at fault for reasons such as jaywalking.
Be honest when relaying your version of the story. If you were on your phone or breaking traffic laws, it will do you no good to lie about it or cover them up in the long run.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible following an accident. They can help you understand your coverage as well as communicate with the pedestrian’s attorney on your behalf.
6. Seek Legal Assistance
Before taking legal action or negotiating a settlement on your own, talk to a trusted attorney about your case. Having representation by your side can protect your rights in a situation that can prove extremely complicated.
Who is at fault?
It isn’t always easy to figure out who is at fault when a driver hits a pedestrian. Fault is quite often determined by the law of negligence. Simply stated, this means a person who fails to show responsible care given the circumstances, may be considered “negligent.”
In the state of Utah, negligence and traffic laws require that drivers pay attention to their surroundings and heed hazards on the roadway. Even in the case of hitting the pedestrian not using a designated crosswalk, the driver wasn’t paying attention to their surroundings or heeding the hazards on the roadway. In this instance, the hazard was the pedestrian. Motorists have a legal responsibility to notice and avoid hazards on the road to provide safety.
If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle in Utah using a legal crosswalk, the crash will almost always be the fault of the driver. Unless the pedestrian simply ran out recklessly onto the roadway, the driver will claim responsibility.
Jaywalking is illegal in the state of Utah. The pedestrian is required to use common sense and marked crosswalks. If they are not paying attention and cross the street without using a crosswalk, the pedestrian is likely to lose their case against the driver.
What happens if you hit a homeless person in Utah?
What happens when a homeless person is involved in a pedestrian accident? The first step is to make sure they receive the medical care they need. Then, find out their identity and file a police report if you believe them to be at fault.
In some instances, a homeless person may try to sue the driver for damages if they feel the driver is at fault. As the driver, thoroughly document the accident as well as get witness statements. If you don’t report the accident you were responsible for, there may be serious legal repercussions in the future. Contact an automobile accident attorney in Utah for legal advice and insight.
What if I hit a pedestrian with my car but he receives no injuries?
In most cases when a pedestrian is hit by a moving vehicle, there are serious injuries or even death. But there are cases where a pedestrian was struck by a motor vehicle and no injuries or damage was inflicted. In these instances, no criminal or civil penalties are extended for either party. However, some injuries may not manifest themselves right away. Adrenaline kicks in and the pedestrian may not fully understand or comprehend damages such as internal bleeding or soft tissue bruising. This is why police reports at the scene of the accident are so crucial. Both parties leave the scene with contact information should they wish to proceed with filing a claim against the other party.
If the vehicle in a pedestrian accident is damaged but the pedestrian sustains no obvious injuries, a report showing evidence of the pedestrian appearing suddenly in front of the driver may help the driver file a claim with their insurance.
How to handle insurance and police reports
The police at the scene will take statements from the pedestrian, driver, and any witnesses involved to determine who was at fault. The police report could indicate which party the officer believes to be at fault on the spot or request a detailed investigation of the accident. Auto insurance companies may dispute the initial findings and send an insurance adjuster to the scene of the accident. He may also examine injuries and property damage shortly after the accident. This would be a good time to reach out to an attorney who can fight for your rights while walking this uncharted path.
What To Do After A Pedestrian Car Accident in Utah Conclusion
Both car drivers and pedestrians have a responsibility to look out for each other on the road. If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident, it’s in your best interest to contact a local attorney to advise you of your legal rights and help you gather evidence to prove you were not at fault. Harris, Preston, and Chambers have the experience and knowledge to assist you while navigating the complicated legal system and will fight tirelessly for your rights.
From the majestic Wasatch Mountains to the sheer red rock of Zion National Park, Utah is known for its diverse scenic beauty. In fact, tourists come from around the world to see the wonders our state has to offer. But with that beauty comes danger. Many of our state roads are constantly cluttered with construction. Some roads go through winding canyons with steep slopes. And some roads are congested with traffic that can make driving conditions difficult.
Whether you’re a resident Utahn or a tourist to our great state, make sure you drive with extra caution on the following most dangerous roads in Utah. If you’ve been in an accident and need an injury lawyer, click the button below or call us to get a free consultation. We serve all of Utah from Salt Lake City all the way down to St George.
Top 10 Most Dangerous Roads in Utah
Running from Sweetgrass, Montana to San Diego, California, this 1400-mile-long highway is a major route for traveling north-south within the state of Utah. Chances are if you’re hearing about a major accident in Utah, it happened on I-15. Here are some of the dangerous conditions you’ll want to watch out for.
- Major traffic
- High speeds
First of all, during rush hour traffic, I-15 comes to a standstill in many areas from the top of Ogden to the bottom of Provo. If you’re not paying attention, you could find yourself in a multi-car pileup. Construction to keep up with the demands of a growing state means new traffic patterns, slowdowns, and narrow lanes. Finally, if you’re caught on I-15 during one of Utah’s many winter storms, you’ll need to drive slowly and carefully so you don’t slip off the road.
US Route 6
US Route 6 is one of the main roads for traveling east-west in the state of Utah. The route, which runs through several states, has a rich history. But the highway is inarguably one of the most dangerous roads in Utah. Here are some of the hazards you’ll encounter.
- Head-on collisions
- High speeds
- Narrow lanes
- Busy truck route
- Winding curves
This rural highway goes through canyons and deserts, with no divider between sides. Truckers use this route to go back and forth from Denver to SLC, and passing one can be very risky. Fatal accidents occur here too frequently. If you’re driving Route 6, make sure to be careful, especially around the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon.
Ranked number 3 in Utah for traffic fatalities, I-80 is an east-west road that spans the entire United States. Near Salt Lake, I-80 passes through the “spaghetti bowl,” a convoluted intersection between I-15, I-80, and SR-201. This portion of I-80 is one of the most crash-prone areas. Keep these hazards in mind when traveling on I-80.
- High speed
- Dangerous winter conditions
- Traffic congestion
- Crash-prone highway
- Animal migration areas
If you’re using I-80, make sure to watch out for sudden slow-downs. Drive with extra caution in inclement weather, and watch out for animals migrating across the roadway.
Next on our list of most dangerous roads is Parley’s Canyon. If you’re traveling between Salt Lake and Park City, Parley’s Canyon is the best route to reach your destination. However, the road can be quite dangerous. Here are some of the hazards you’ll encounter when driving through Parley’s Canyon.
- Steep grade
- Dangerous winter conditions
- Semi trucks traveling at slow speeds
- Fast speeds
- Curving roads
This section of I-80 has steep, curving roads. In the summer, the grade in and of itself can be scary. Winter road conditions, however, can make this road treacherous to drive. Be cautious when passing semi-trucks, which likely will be going slowly as they climb the canyon roads.
Another east-west interstate, I-70 is next on our list of Utah’s most dangerous roads. Unlike many of the other roads on our list, I-70 goes through no major cities in Utah. The views are beautiful, with mountains and cliffsides, but this road is dangerous for several reasons. Watch out for these hazards while driving I-70.
- Winding turns
- Slow-moving semi-trucks
- No services from Green River to Salinas
If you’re planning to drive on I-70, make sure you gas up before entering the hundred-mile stretch with no services from Green River to Salinas. Follow the speed limit while going up and down steep grades. And if you’re traveling at sunset or sunrise, be especially cautious as you take turns as the angle of the sun can be almost blinding around curves.
Number six on our list of dangerous Utah roads is Moki Dugway, a winding stretch of road on US Highway 261. From Moki Dugway, you’ll see beautiful views of the Valley of the Gods and the San Juan River Canyon. But, for many reasons, the Moki Dugway is as dangerous as it is beautiful.
- Dirt road
- Winding turns
- 11% grade
- Cliffside road with no guard-rails
Driving the Moki Dugway is an experience in itself. But you’ll want to take extra caution as you traverse one of Utah’s most dangerous roads. Make sure to drive slowly up or down this road while you enjoy the view.
US Highway 89
US Highway 89 is next on our list of dangerous Utah roads. This north-south road goes from Flagstaff, Arizona up to the Canadian border. In Utah, it passes through remote-but-scenic areas, including Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the most dangerous sections of the road runs through Logan Canyon. Cars have crashed into the Logan River, causing fatal injuries.
- Logan River
- Remote locations
- Winding roads
- Winter weather conditions
If you’re planning to visit some of Utah’s most famous national parks, chances are you’ll have to take this beautiful but dangerous US Highway. Make sure you take caution as you travel to your destination.
Called the Belt Route by locals, I-215 is eighth on our list of dangerous Utah roads. This highway parallels I-15 before curving east-west to take drivers in a loop around Salt Lake. Considered a connecting route, this road is as useful as it is dangerous. Consider these risky conditions when driving I-215.
- Traffic congestion
- Winter road conditions
- High speeds
I-215 is a busy route that becomes congested with traffic at rush hour. Sudden slowdowns can cause collisions, and winter weather can make the road slippery to drive. Be especially careful when driving during these conditions on I-215.
Bangerter Highway (SR-154)
With increased development on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, Bangerter Highway has come to fill the need for better roads. The road runs from the Salt Lake International Airport in the north to Bluffdale in the south, where it connects to I-15. The road was originally built as a high-speed highway with stoplights at intersections but is currently being transformed to function more like a freeway. Bridges and on-ramps have been built at many of the busiest intersections, with more planned. Here are some of the dangers of driving on Bangerter Highway.
- Frequent construction
- Varying traffic patterns
- Stop-and-go traffic
- High speeds
- Traffic congestion
One of the most dangerous aspects of Bangerter Highway might just be the varying traffic patterns at every intersection. Some stoplights are designed in a traditional way, while others have left turns crossing to the extreme far left. Pay careful attention to signs to make sure you don’t make a potentially-fatal move.
Last on our list of dangerous roads is I-84. Compared to other states it runs through, I-84 only has a short segment in Utah, totaling about 120 miles from Echo, Utah to the Idaho state border. I-84 runs concurrently with I-15 for about 30 miles, from Brigham City to Tremonton. If you’re traveling on I-84, you’ll want to watch for these hazards.
- Major usage by semi-trucks
- Winter weather conditions
- Remote sections of road
Long stretches of I-84 go through remote areas with limited access to services. Winter weather can also be severe, especially near Snowville. You’ll also want to watch out for semi-trucks, which make up to 50% of the traffic on this roadway.
Most Dangerous Roads in Utah Conclusion
Even the best of drivers can find themselves in dangerous situations on these roads. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident or truck accident, we’re here to help. We take on the work of getting you fairly compensated so you can focus on resting and rehabilitating.
We work with you throughout the entire process, whether you’re the victim or the accused. Call us today at (435) 752-3551 for a consultation. Brett Chambers is one of the best car accident lawyers in Utah. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve!
A friend was recently rear-ended in a multi-car collision in Wasatch Front. They are visibly shaken up, have no idea how they will get to and from work and are starting to experience neck and back pain from the crash. They considered calling a lawyer, but how long does a Utah car accident settlement take? If you’ve been in a car accident and need a lawyer, click the button below to get a free consultation with us.
Should You Report a Fender Bender to Insurance?
You should most definitely speak to a licensed attorney after a Utah car accident. Even if the other driver says they are okay and even if only a slight amount of damage occurred, you must report the accident to your car insurance company. Failing to report a collision can result in loss of your insurance coverage. In addition, let’s say that you and the other driver agree not to report the accident, and simply to exchange cash for damages. The other driver pays you cash (with no way to prove it) and then later that day calls their insurance company to report the accident, claiming you were at fault. Now the accident investigation could be drawn out due to a dispute of liability.
When Should You Get an Attorney for a Cache Valley Car Accident?
After you have reported the accident to police, and obtained emergency medical attention if necessary, you should call a Cache Valley personal injury attorney. Even if you believe your potential case is not worth the effort, calling an attorney can help you identify if you do have a claim for damages. An attorney can help walk you through the process of a typical personal injury claim and explain what types of damages to which you may be entitled.
Why the Insurance Company is Not Working in Your Best Interest
Most importantly, even if you are not at fault in the accident, the other driver’s insurance company wants to settle the claim for the least amount possible. It has nothing to do with what you may truly be entitled to, and what they offer may barely cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car. If it is totaled, you might only be approved for a car rental for a couple days, and in the meantime, you are left without a way to get to work or school.
The insurance company might claim that you have to see their collision expert for damages, only for the estimator to under-value the cost of replacement parts or repairs. What the insurance company will not tell you is that you can get an independent collision estimate from another car mechanic or collision expert. If you were injured in a Utah car accident through no fault of your own, you should be made whole. This means you should receive the full value of the car that was totaled or complete repairs.
How Long After a Car Accident Should You Seek Medical Treatment?
Often right after a car accident, the parties may be feeding off adrenaline because of the trauma. Many times a plaintiff does not realize how hurt they are until the next day or several days later. Inflammation from a soft tissue or joint injury can take several days to manifest. In addition, internal bruising and other more serious medical issues like a concussion may not be readily apparent at the accident scene. The best way to protect yourself is to seek emergency medical attention after the scene of an accident.
If you refuse transport via EMS at the scene, it is not too late to visit your primary care doctor or an urgent care physician to determine if you are showing signs of an injury. You may need to be referred to an orthopedist or physical therapist for evaluation and treatment. If showing signs of an internal injury, your doctor might order an ultrasound or MRI to rule out internal bleeding or trauma to internal organs.
How Long After a Logan Car Accident Can You Claim Injuries?
Even if your injuries were not readily apparent after a car accident, it is not too late to add a personal injury claim to your case. Plaintiffs in a Utah auto accident case have up to four years after the date of the accident to bring a claim against the defendant and/or the defendant’s insurance company, according to Utah Code § 78B-2-307. This is referred to as a statute of limitations. After the statute of limitations expires, the plaintiff is barred from recovery. If you were injured in a Logan car accident, you should not delay filing a claim so that you may be compensated for your injuries sooner. It is also best to seek a lawyer’s advice while the facts of the accident and what occurred are fresh in your mind.
How Long Does a Utah Car Accident Take to Settle?
The length of a personal injury claim is dependent on several factors. First, both sides need to report the claim to their insurance company. If one party is dragging its feet, this could elongate the process for several months. Perhaps there was a witness to the scene who provided their contact information, but now you cannot reach them. If an accident was exceptionally severe and it is unclear who is at fault, an accident reconstruction expert might need to be consulted. If multiple parties were involved in a multi-vehicle collision, it could take months just to get everyone’s version of events.
If you or a passenger suffered physical injuries, a claim may not move forward in litigation until you have finished obtaining treatment. For many people with soft tissue or joint injuries, they could be attending physical therapy for months or even years to regain mobility and range of motion. If a plaintiff suffered a disability or dismemberment, they may never be finished with treatment. In that case, their attorney would add a claim for future medical expenses in addition to incurred medical expenses.
Other Reasons a Claim Could be Delayed
Lack of Attention to Your Case
If your current attorney is unresponsive or if your case is constantly passed around between junior-level associates at a large firm, your case may not be receiving the attention it deserves. With each passing month, the parties get further away from reaching a potential settlement. Our attorneys at Harris, Preston, and Chambers are a small, local law firm dedicated to opening the lines of communication with our clients. When we take on a case, we make it our mission to keep in constant contact with you, and answer any questions you may have.
The Defendant (or Their Lawyers) is Stalling
Often once a case reaches the negotiation phase of litigation (before or after discovery is complete), the defense may employ stalling tactics. Whether they dodge phone calls, play phone tag or claim they cannot get in contact with their client, our attorneys at Harris, Preston and Chambers have seen it all before. We understand how frustrating it can be to wait for compensation after you have suffered through a car accident and are continuing to delay with debilitating pain. We do everything in our power to expedite a claim for you.
Discovery is More Complicated Than Assumed
If you were involved in a Utah multi-vehicle collision or you saw multiple healthcare providers for treatment, discovery can often be the longest phase of litigation. Discovery is the exchange of evidence, documents, photos, statements and medical records between the parties. Attorneys and their team working on a personal injury case must obtain all of your records, police reports, photos of the accident, photos of the injury, witness statements, and any other pieces of evidence related to your case.
Too often a medical office delays in providing a plaintiff’s records to their attorney despite prior HIPAA authorization. Our lawyers do everything we can to stay on top of your claim, including following up with your providers to obtain records. Sometimes the other side will engage in stalling tactics to delay discovery, but if this is the case, our attorneys at Harris, Preston and Chambers can use litigation strategies (such as a motion to compel discovery) to ensure the exchange of information occurs.
What Happens if You Lose a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Many car accident cases never make it to court, meaning the case settles, but each case is different. If retained, our lawyers at Harris, Preston and Chambers will counsel you on case strategy, and whether or not the defense’s counteroffer is fair or appropriate, but ultimately the decision to settle or go to trial is up to you.
If you choose not to take the defense’s offer and proceed with the trial, it could take months to get a court date assigned, which could be subject to postponement. The fate of your case also lies in the hands of a jury. While juries usually sympathize with the plaintiff in a personal injury claim, there is no guarantee that they would suggest an award that is greater than what the defendant offered in settlement negotiations. In addition, if a plaintiff loses a car accident lawsuit, and their attorney took the case on a contingency basis, the plaintiff does not owe the attorney anything. However, if the plaintiff is successful, their attorney would take a percentage of their recovery to pay fees and expenses incurred.
Contact Our Logan Car Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one were injured in a Logan car accident, you may have questions about what happens next. While no two personal injury cases are the same, our attorneys at Harris, Preston & Chambers, LLP can walk you through each step of litigation. We can help you determine what your case might be worth and how long you can expect until the case settles. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
Is a Missed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis Evidence of Medical Malpractice in Utah?
Visiting the doctor for a chronic illness, unexplained pain or injury is often bewildering. You might be faced with no available appointments or rushed during your consultation. You may feel like the doctor is not listening or reviewing your pertinent medical history or you could just be looking for answers. Unfortunately, doctors do not always get it right.
Did a doctor make an incorrect diagnosis, or did they fail to diagnose an issue that only got worse? Did you have to visit multiple practices before a correct diagnosis? This is sadly common for many patients, but it can have seriously detrimental effects. You may have legal options to pursue if you have suffered due to a doctor’s negligent mistake. Our personal injury attorneys at Harris, Preston & Chambers specialize in Utah medical malpractice claims including missed diagnosis and misdiagnosis. Click the button below to schedule your free consultation or give us a call.
What is a Misdiagnosis?
Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor or medical provider makes an incorrect diagnosis about a patient’s symptoms, whether it is an injury or illness. Often misdiagnosis happens if a doctor does not believe a patient’s symptoms are indicative of a more serious illness or injury. They may be rushing to see the next patient or fail to review a patient’s medical history before making an assessment.
For example, a patient visits an urgent care clinic complaining of a severe headache and dizziness and the doctor on staff dismisses her. He does not request blood work, conduct neurological tests, or order a CT scan or brain MRI despite the patient complaining of ongoing worsening of symptoms for the past week. He misdiagnoses her with chronic migraine and prescribes prescription-strength ibuprofen. The next day, the patient suffers a severe stroke and loses the use of her left hand and arm. Her life will never be the same again because the doctor misdiagnosed her symptoms.
What Must the Plaintiff Prove for a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Misdiagnosis is one form of medical malpractice. This is because a doctor acted negligently in failing only for her to suffer a heart attack three hours after discharge. The patient passes away because the doctor misdiagnosed her symptoms. It could result in disability, severe injury, or even death. The patient could be given medical advice that is completely incorrect given the condition they are actually suffering with or undergo more harm or pain because the correct treatment was delayed.
In a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must prove that the treating physician owed the patient a duty of care and that the doctor acted negligently in rendering medical care, breaching their duty. The plaintiff must prove that the doctor’s misdiagnosis was the proximate cause of their injuries or worsening condition and that they are entitled to damages as a result.
What About a Missed Diagnosis?
A missed diagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to make a diagnosis at all, essentially telling the patient that there is nothing wrong with them. It may also occur if a patient is suffering from more than one issue and the doctor only identifies the cause of the plaintiff’s chief complaint, overlooking another, more serious medical problem.
Often people suffering from autoimmune or chronic pain disorders may have to visit multiple doctors before they obtain the correct diagnosis. For those with multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, this waiting period can mean the difference between better quality of life or the progression of severe disability. A doctor might miss a diagnosis in a young patient because they are “too young” to be contracting the illness. They might write off spotting and cramps as normal in a young woman who actually suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome. Or blood work might not indicate cause for concern on an exam, yet the patient is still suffering from unexplained pain.
Is a Missed Diagnosis Considered Medical Malpractice?
There are multiple examples of missed diagnosis, and it can leave the patient feeling defeated and out of options. Each day a patient’s illness or injury is not treated could substantially affect their mobility, independence, and ability to work or care for their children. Doctors do make mistakes, and some of these mistakes could be extremely serious or even deadly.
A doctor’s failure to diagnose an illness in an early stage could result in increased costs, time missed from work, and advanced, more invasive treatment for the patient at a later stage. Even worse, a patient might accept a doctor’s mistaken advice that there is “nothing wrong with them” only to continue to suffer from pain or sickness. While patients might be hesitant to pursue legal action, a Utah doctor’s missed diagnosis is not just a simple mistake but has forever changed the trajectory of a patient’s life. For that reason, a missed diagnosis is considered another form of medical malpractice.
What Damages is a Plaintiff Entitled to?
There is no cap for economic damages due to a misdiagnosis, incorrect diagnosis, or missed diagnosis in Utah. If a plaintiff can produce medical bills accumulated as a result of the doctor’s failure to diagnose their condition or injury correctly, they can seek compensation for those losses. Some plaintiffs have been forced to visit multiple doctors and specialists seeking an answer for chronic pain or a mysterious illness, and with each day that passes by a chronic condition may only worsen.
Plaintiffs are also able to obtain non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages not tied to a bill or invoice. The cap for non-economic damages in Utah is $450,000, according to Utah Code §78B-3-410 (2010). Plaintiffs can also recover damages for lost wages and future lost wages attributed to the defendant’s malpractice and any out-of-pocket medical expenses, rehabilitation, and occupational therapy, or durable medical equipment.
Procedural Steps for Filing a Misdiagnosis or Missed Diagnosis Claim in Utah
The plaintiff must establish that the medical provider failed to render the same level of care that a reasonable practitioner would have dispensed in similar circumstances. In cases of misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, the plaintiff may rely on testimony from their treating physician and specialists regarding the condition they suffer from, and how their current physician came to that conclusion. They may also rely on extensive medical history and records of treatment after the misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis occurred to prove they are entitled to damages sought.
There are also procedural requirements a plaintiff must adhere when filing a claim in Utah. A plaintiff must file a notice of intent to sue with the physician or hospital defendant at least 90 days prior. The plaintiff then files a request for prelitigation panel review within 60 days of filing the notice of intent, according to Utah Code § 78B-3-416 (2020). A panel is then commissioned to review the plaintiff’s complaint. The panel may subpoena the plaintiff and defendant for medical records related to the claim, and all proceedings remain confidential. Panel proceedings are not binding on litigation but they are required before a medical malpractice claim can move forward in litigation.
Conclusion on Missed Diagnosis vs Misdiagnosis
If you or a loved one were misdiagnosed, mistreated, or neglected by a medical provider, contact our Utah medical malpractice attorneys at Harris, Preston, and Chambers. Our medical misdiagnosis lawyers are dedicated to advocating for our clients. We understand how frustrating and detrimental a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can be to your health and peace of mind. We tirelessly advocate on behalf of our clients to obtain justice. Call our medical malpractice attorneys today to schedule a consultation and review your options. Click the button below to get your free legal strategy session.