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With a child newly diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may feel overwhelmed by the decisions you need to make. Some of those will be legal decisions, such as deciding if you need to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to get justice for the harm caused by a medical professional and to recover damages for your child.
In Idaho, the process of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit is directed by state laws. In cases of discrimination or a violation of disability rights, you may need to follow process set out by Idaho state law or by federal laws, depending on the situation. An Idaho lawyer with expertise in these areas of the law can help you make the process go more smoothly and result in a better outcome.
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Do I Need a Lawyer for the Idaho Lawsuit Filing Process?
You will greatly benefit from having a lawyer by your side during this process. Legal representation is not technically required to file a medical malpractice lawsuit or to file a discrimination complaint or lawsuit, but your outcome is much more likely to be successful with the right lawyer.
The laws that govern these cases are complicated and they often favor the defendants. Those defendants will also be backed by teams of lawyers from their insurance companies. Trying to go up against these legal teams on your own is not recommended.
As you search for a lawyer to help you start and get through the filing process, make sure you choose an individual Idaho lawyer or firm that specializes in these cases. It’s not enough to have a good general lawyer. You need someone who has worked with disabled children and on malpractice cases. Look for someone with proven wins for similar clients and positive references from those clients.
What Type of Lawsuit Will I Need to File for Cerebral Palsy?
As the parent of a child with cerebral palsy you may be facing a couple of situations that require legal action:
- Medical malpractice. One of the earliest types of action you may consider taking is filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This may be the case if you believe that a doctor, nurse, or other medical staff made a mistake or failed to provide adequate care for you or your child. If you can prove that this mistake was negligent and contributed to or caused your child’s disability you can recover damages with this lawsuit.
- Discrimination. You may feel that your child has been discriminated against, such as in school. Or, your family may have been denied housing or public access because of your child’s disabilities. In these kinds of cases, you may want to begin the process of filing a complaint with the appropriate government agency or a civil lawsuit against those responsible.
How to File a Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice in Idaho
The process of getting started with a medical malpractice lawsuit can be confusing, especially since the laws are different in every state. In Idaho, make sure you begin the process in a timely manner.
State laws dictate that the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice case is two years from the time of the negligent incident. Exceptions can be made for minors, but you still cannot file any later than six years after the medical malpractice occurred. 
File for Prelitigation Screening
In Idaho, you must file a claim with the State Board of Medicine before actually filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.  The information about your case will go to a panel that provides prelitigation screening. The panel will determine if your case is frivolous or if it has merit.
The panel also determines if you should be awarded damages and will suggest an amount. The decisions made by the panel are not binding, but you have to go through the process.
File a Lawsuit
Once you have gone through the prelitigation screening you can file your lawsuit. Your lawyer will send a detailed claim to notify defendants, who then must respond within a certain amount of time. Don’t be surprised if they deny liability. This is typical.
With the complaint filed, both sides will prepare for settlement negotiations or a trial by investigating the incident and collecting evidence and expert testimony.
Negotiate for a Settlement
The prelitigation determination can help you during this part of the process. If the panel found in your favor you can use that decision as leverage in negotiating with the defendants’ lawyers for a settlement. Before negotiations begin, you’ll discuss how much you hope to be awarded so provide your lawyer with all relevant medical bills and receipts for other, related expenses.
Go to Trial
If negotiations fail you will have to take your case to court if you want to proceed. Your lawyer will gather all the necessary evidence, expert testimony, and information to argue your case in front of a jury. The jury will make the decision as to whether or not medical malpractice occurred and will award an amount for damages if it rules in your favor.
In Idaho, there is a cap on non-economic damages but judges have some authority to adjust the damages amount as needed.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint or Lawsuit in Idaho
You can also take legal action if you believe your family or your child has experienced discrimination based on disabilities. Idaho and federal laws protect the disabled from discrimination in housing, public access, employment, and education. 
Complete a Complaint Questionnaire
If your situation relates to state laws you’ll first fill out a questionnaire through the Idaho Human Rights Commission. This will allow you to share all the basic information about your situation and your case for discrimination.
Sign a Charge of Discrimination
The Commission will review your information and determine if you have a valid case of discrimination. If so, you will next be asked to sign a charge of discrimination. This will then be sent to the person or organization you are alleging discriminated.
Provide Information for an Investigation
At this point, the Commission will begin an investigation of the incident. If necessary, you will provide more information related to the incident. The Commission will ultimately come up with a ruling, determining if discrimination occurred and if so what the reparations should be and if a public hearing is necessary.
File a Civil Lawsuit
Idaho law also allows you to file a civil lawsuit to take private legal action if you feel it is necessary. This kind of lawsuit can be used to recover damages, especially if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the Commission’s investigation and decision. For either process, you should have a lawyer working with you who is experienced in civil rights and disability discrimination cases.
Filing a lawsuit in Idaho for medical malpractice or discrimination can be a daunting and difficult task. But to get the justice your child deserves as well as damages, it is necessary. Let an Idaho lawyer help you get through the filing process more smoothly.
- Medical liability/Malpractice statutes of limitation. (2014, March 20). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-statutes-of-limitation.aspx
- Medical liability/Malpractice merit affidavits and expert witnesses. (2014, June 24). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-merit-affidavits-and-expert-witnesses.aspx
- What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? (n.d.). ADA National Network | Information, Guidance and Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Retrieved from: https://adata.org/learn-about-ada