Alaska

Alaska Medical Malpractice Laws

Alaska’s rules and standards for filing and prosecuting medical malpractice claims reflect the state-specific nature of most medical negligence claims, and as such, should medical damages be incurred in the state of Alaska, claims against negligent providers will most likely need to be initiated in the state of Alaska. Furthermore, a plaintiff in Alaska will benefit from understanding these basic tenets of Alaskan medical malpractice law when determining how their case may have legitimacy and merit for making a claim for damages, including:

  • Alaska maintains a two-year statute of limitations, requiring the filing of a medical malpractice claim within two years of the medical error of discovery of the injuries which flowed from that error
  • Subject to a strict few exceptions, Alaska has a statute of repose that bars the filing of medical malpractice claims more than ten years after the occurrence of the malpractice;
  • Alaska also caps noneconomic damages that an injured party may recover in medical malpractice cases
  • An injured party’s damages can be reduced, but will not be entirely precluded by the proportion of that party’s liability for his injuries
  • Expert witnesses who testify in Alaskan medical malpractice cases must be trained in the same specialty as the prospective defendant

Damages Statutes Summarized in the State of Alaska for Medical Malpractice Cases

Alaska caps an injured party’s noneconomic damages at the greater of $400,000, or $8,000 times the person’s life expectancy.  These amounts are increased to $1 million and $25,000 for egregious cases, including those involving permanent disability or disfigurement. Alaska is also a “pure comparative negligence” state. A party’s monetary recovery in Alaska for damages resulting from medical malpractice will be reduced by the amount of that person’s liability for his injuries. Unlike states that rely on a modified comparative negligence standard, Alaska’s pure standard will not eliminate a party’s opportunity to receive damages for medical malpractice, even if that party is more than fifty per cent liable for his injuries.

Verification of Claims in Alaska and Expert Testimony as Evidence in Medical Malpractice Law in Alaska

Alaska requires testifying expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases to be certified in the same specialty as the prospective defendant in the case.  Moreover, an interesting and unique aspect of Alaska’s treatment of medical malpractice cases is its “I’m Sorry” law.  Under that law (passed as House Bill 250), statements or regret or apology made by physicians who are facing malpractice claims, as well as offers to correct or remedy a medical mistake, are not admissible in a subsequent malpractice trial. This approach to medical errors is consistent with research which shows that addressing a potential problem soon after it occurs can remediate the harm and fallout that flows from the problem.

Important Deadlines in Alaskan Medical Malpractice Cases and How A Lawyer Can Help Patient’s with A Claim

Like many other states, Alaska, requires an injured party to file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of the occurrence the medical error or discovery of the ensuing injuries.  Alaska has a relatively long ten-year statute of repose, and any attempt to file a medical malpractice lawsuit more than ten years after the medical error, even if the injury has not manifested itself within that time, will likely be met with a motion to dismiss the case.

Medical malpractice claims and demands for compensations for injuries are best addressed under orderly procedures, like those that are in place in Alaska. Injured parties are best served by consulting as soon after the medical malpractice has occurred with an attorney who understands those procedures and applies your case-specific concerns to the existing Alaskan medical malpractice laws.

The full text of the Alaska statute of limitations can found via the following links:

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/akstatutes/9/09.10./09.10.070.

http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/statutes.asp

The text of the Alaska statute that caps noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases:

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/akstatutes/9/09.17./09.17.010

 

 

 

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