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If you have a child who developed cerebral palsy after medical negligence by a health professional, filing a lawsuit is an important way to get justice and recover damages. You also have the right to sue if your child has been discriminated against. An experienced Utah cerebral palsy lawyer can assist but it’s a good idea to understand the basic lawsuit filing process in Utah.
Lawsuits You May Need to File for Cerebral Palsy
A child with cerebral palsy will face many challenges throughout their lives. By filing a lawsuit in response to a particular situation or problem, you help them fight injustices, hold people accountable for the harm they cause, and recover damages and fight discrimination.
Two main situations may call for legal action on behalf of your child include:
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- Medical malpractice. A mistake during your pregnancy, delivery, or shortly after your child is born can cause brain damage that can lead to cerebral palsy. If you believe your doctor or someone else was negligent, you could have a valid case for medical malpractice. Filing this lawsuit can provide damages to help cover treatment and care costs.
- Discrimination. When your child is a little older, discrimination based on disabilities may be an issue. Laws in Utah and at the federal level outlaw this.  You can file a complaint or a lawsuit to resolve the situation and possibly to recover damages. State laws cover discrimination your family may experience in housing, but for educational or public accommodation issues, you may need to act based on federal regulations.
How to File a Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Utah
The idea of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit and of going up against a high-powered legal team for a doctor or hospital can be daunting. The outcome can be worth it, though. If someone harmed your child, they need to be held accountable and to provide the compensation that will give your child the best care for life.
To get through the process more efficiently, make sure you understand the steps and the Utah laws that govern these cases.
File within the Statute of Limitations
Utah’s statute of limitations allows you to file within two years from the negligent incident or within two years of having realized that it occurred and harmed your child. In very few exceptions, a lawsuit can be filed more than four years from the actual incident. 
Know What to Expect in Recovering Damages
Utah caps the amount you can get for non-economic costs.  Non-economic costs cover things such as pain, emotional suffering, or loss of independence.
There is no cap on economic damages. Your lawyer will help you estimate what you should be able to get based on past, current, and future expenses related to your child’s condition.
Sending a Notice of Intent
According to Utah law, the first step in filing is to send notices of intent to each defendant you’re naming in the lawsuit. This will notify them of legal action and the specific allegations against them.
Request a Pre-Litigation Panel Review
Next, you’ll need to request a panel review. A medical and legal panel will review the evidence you have and your allegations to determine if the case has merit. The finding is not binding unless both sides agree that it is.
Submit an Affidavit of Merit
If the panel agrees your case is valid and that negligence may have occurred, you can file the lawsuit. If not, you can submit an affidavit of merit to continue the process. 
An affidavit of merit is a document signed by a qualified medical expert. It states that the expert reviewed your case and believes it has value.
Begin the Investigation
Once you have taken all these steps, your lawyer can file the lawsuit. This begins the period of investigation by both sides. Lawyers on each side will collect evidence, conduct depositions, and enlist medical experts for testimony.
Try to Negotiate a Settlement
Most medical malpractice cases end in a settlement out of court. Your lawyer will try to negotiate with the other side to get you a fair settlement amount. This solution receives your compensation sooner, but you can decide if the offer is inadequate or if you want to accept it.
Go to Court
If you don’t accept the settlement offer or if the other side will not negotiate, you can go to trial in court. This will mean likely going in front of a jury.
Your lawyer will present the evidence and witnesses to prove your case, and the jury will make the decision about negligence and any damages to be awarded.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint or Lawsuit
Discrimination based on disability is illegal in areas that could impact your child: housing, public accommodations, and education. Utah law only covers housing discrimination, so if you have an issue, you can file a complaint with the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division. 
The Division will review your complaint, guide mediation to help you resolve the situation, and, if necessary, investigate the incident and decide as to whether or not discrimination occurred. You can also file a lawsuit if you are not satisfied with the results of this process.
If you have an issue with education services or public access and accommodations for your child, your lawyer will help you file with the appropriate federal government agency. The process will be similar to that the state uses to try to bring about a resolution.
Hiring the Right Lawyer for the Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Filing Process in Utah
You cannot go it alone when it comes to filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice or discrimination. And, you also cannot rely on a general lawyer. You need a Utah cerebral palsy lawyer, someone who specializes in working with clients like you and cases related to disabilities, discrimination, and medical malpractice.
Without this expertise, you run the risk of making mistakes that jeopardize your child’s chances of recovering damages and getting justice. The laws that govern these types of lawsuits can be complicated and difficult to understand. And when you go up against a doctor or hospital, they will be backed by experienced legal teams.
You need the knowledge and experience of the right lawyer to explain the filing process, give you options, provide advice, and guide the decisions you make in the best interest of your child. When you’re ready to file a lawsuit for your child in Utah, hire the right lawyer, and you have the best chance of winning.
- 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
- 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
- Caps on damages. (n.d.). Utah Courts. The Utah Judiciary.
Retrieved from: https://www.utcourts.gov/resources/damage_cap.htm
- 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
- Uald. Laws, rules, and regulations. (2018, August 22). Utah Labor Commission.
Retrieved from: https://laborcommission.utah.gov/laws-regulations/uald-laws-regulations/