Comparative Negligence in Medical Malpractice Cases By Younker Hyde Macfarlane on June 17, 2021

Woman filling out medical paperworkPatients under the care of a medical professional have the right to expect treatment that is on par with that which would be provided by another similarly trained professional. If a medical professional is negligent in their care, and a patient is harmed, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, help their Salt Lake City, UT, clients pursue compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Often clients are curious how much money they are due. Medical malpractice damages in Utah can be affected by comparative negligence. Here, we explain the comparative negligence law, and how it can apply to medical malpractice cases.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal system that allows the fault of an accident or injury to be shared by both the plaintiff and defendant. When a case is filed, the details of the accident or injury are examined to determine how much each party contributed. Based on the findings, the plaintiff and defendant are each assigned a percentage of liability to equal up to 100 percent. For instance, if a plaintiff is assigned 30 percent liability for their accident, then the defendant would be 70 percent liable.

How Could a Patient Contribute to Their Injuries?

Comparative negligence is not as common in medical malpractice claims as it is in other types of civil lawsuits. Often, if a medical professional is negligent or reckless in their care, they are found 100 percent liable for any resulting damages. However, there are situations where a medical malpractice victim may be found partially liable under comparative negligence laws. 

Comparative negligence may come into play in a medical malpractice lawsuit if our Salt Lake City clients contributed to their injuries by:

  • Lying on medical records
  • Failing to tell treating providers about certain aspects of their medical history
  • Ignoring medical care instructions
  • Engaging in activities that worsened the condition of their injuries

Can I Still Collect Compensation?

Even if our Salt Lake City clients are found partially liable for their damages, they may still be due financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Under the guidelines of comparative negligence, injured parties are able to seek compensation for losses, but awards are reduced by their degree of fault. For example, if someone is awarded $100,000, but they are found to be 40 percent liable for their injuries, they would actually only receive $60,000 ($100,000-$40,000 , or 40 percent).

Medical malpractice victims should know that Utah sets a 50 percent bar rule for comparative negligence. This means that if a plaintiff is found 50 percent or more responsible for their injuries, they are unable to pursue any financial compensation, and their case will be dismissed. Again, it is unusual for comparative negligence to apply to medical malpractice cases, and it is especially rare for a medical malpractice victim to be found 50 percent or more liable for their injuries.

Get In Touch

If you have suffered physical, emotional, or financial losses due to substandard medical care, the attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, can help you hold liable parties accountable for your damages. Contact our law firm online or call us at (801) 335-6467 to schedule a personal consultation.

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Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC

Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC

At Younker Hyde Macfarlane, PLLC, our attorneys have decades of combined experience in complex cases. We represent clients in all types of personal injury cases, with a special focus on medical malpractice claims. Our firm is associated with the following professional organizations:

  • Utah Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Salt Lake County Bar Association
  • American Trial Lawyers Association

To schedule an appointment, please contact us online or call (801) 335-6467.

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