Unfortunately, some healthcare providers take this privilege for granted, severely injuring patients and altering their lives for the worse.
If you’ve ever suffered an injury at the hands of a healthcare provider, you might consider suing for medical malpractice.
To do so, it is important to first understand the malpractice process in Wyoming.
If you wish to discuss your case with a Wyoming medical malpractice attorney, Platte River Injury Law is ready to help you.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice involves a medical care provider treating a patient negligently, resulting in injury or death. The provider may commit a negligent act or fail to take action when they should. Acts resulting in medical malpractice can vary, but include:
- Failing to properly diagnose or misdiagnosing a patient;
- Misreading test results;
- Surgical error;
- Failure to take a patient’s appropriate medical history;
- Inaccurate dosages; and
- Poor aftercare.
Physicians and medical providers are held to a high standard, owing their patients a duty of care. If they breach this duty, and this breach causes harm to the patient, the patient may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent parties.
The Wyoming Medical Review Panel
In the state of Wyoming, absent an exception, you must first go through the Medical Review Panel before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
According to Wyoming Statute 9-2-1518, “no complaint alleging malpractice shall be filed in any court against a health care provider before a claim is made to the panel and its decision is rendered.”
Initiating the Medical Review Panel Process
The patient begins by submitting a claim to the panel. The claim must contain certain information, including details of the alleged act and all names and contact information of treating providers. The patient must also submit an authorization for release of all medical records.
After the patient submits their claim, the healthcare provider will receive notice. They have 60 days to answer the patient’s claim. If they fail to answer within the specified 60-day period, the patient may then proceed to file their medical malpractice lawsuit.
Additionally, within those 60 days, the patient must submit a signed statement from a medical expert certifying that the patient’s claim of medical malpractice by their provider is true.
The Medical Review Panel Hearing
Once the patient has submitted all of the requirements, the Medical Review Panel will hold a hearing on the matter. There are two main decisions the panel must make:
- Whether there is enough evidence to prove the healthcare provider did commit medical malpractice; and
- Whether it is reasonably probable that the patient suffered harm as a result of the provider’s malpractice.
It is important to note that the panel’s decision is not binding on the parties. However, if the patient does decide to go ahead with the medical malpractice lawsuit, a judge may decide to admit the Medical Review Panel’s proceedings into the record.
Exceptions to Filing a Claim with the Medical Review Panel
While most medical malpractice claims must first go through the Medical Review Panel, there are some exceptions. These include when:
- All parties have agreed to waive the Medical Review Panel process;
- The patient and healthcare provider agree to submit the pending issue to arbitration; or
- The medical malpractice lawsuit was filed before July 1, 2005.
If none of the above exceptions exist, the patient must submit their claim with the Medical Review Panel and go through the process before filing their medical malpractice lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Wyoming
Statutes of limitations are time restrictions placed on a plaintiff’s ability to file a claim. In Wyoming, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the date of the incident resulting in harm.
Medical malpractice claims are unique, and it is common for patients to be completely unaware of the malpractice immediately after it has occurred.
The statute of limitations recognizes this common issue. Therefore, if the malpractice was not reasonably discoverable within two years of the act or omission, the patient may file their claim two years from the date they actually discovered the malpractice.
Statute of Limitations for Minors
For minors, the statute of limitations is either the one described above or until the minor’s 18th birthday—whichever is longest.
Statute of Limitations for Persons with a Disability
If the patient is not a minor but suffers from another type of disability, the statute of limitations can be extended. For individuals with a disability, the claim must be filed within a year after the disability is removed.
Failing to File Within the Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are extremely important to note, and as discussed, the time allotted can vary depending on the circumstances.
If the patient fails to file their medical malpractice lawsuit within the correct time, they will more than likely lose their chance to recover financially.
The opposing party, upon notice of the expired statute of limitations, will bring it to the attention of the court. A judge then has the ability to dismiss the case entirely.
Don’t risk losing your opportunity to receive compensation for your injuries. Discuss your case with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to begin working on your case.
Consult with a Qualified Wyoming Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice cases can be challenging to navigate, especially for individuals with little to no knowledge. A Wyoming medical malpractice attorney will review the details of your case, ask all the right questions, and explain your options. A lawyer will give you the best chance at a fair resolution.
Platte River Injury Law, founded by Jeremy Hugus, has had the pleasure of assisting countless injured clients in Wyoming. Our firm strives to care for clients while providing exceptional legal representation and peace of mind.
We offer free case evaluations. Contact us today, and let’s see how our firm can help get you on the road to recovery.