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  • April 30

Medical Malpractice and Statute of Limitations

Hospital Accident Lawyers

All states have time limits on when you can file a personal injury lawsuit against another person or organization. It’s called the statute of limitations. As hospital accident lawyers can explain, if you try to file your claim after the statute of limitations, it’s almost certain that the case will be dismissed.

The Standard Deadline

Most states have a standard deadline for filing medical malpractice. Generally speaking, you have from two to three years to file your lawsuit, but it does depend on where you are filing. Some states have a little longer timeline, up to five years, while in some places, you may only have one year. This is why it’s recommended to talk to a lawyer about your specific circumstances. The standard deadline usually starts on the date of the injury.

The Discovery Rule

The statute of limitations can be complex, because the law allows for exceptions to the rule. The first exception that could apply to your case is called the discovery rule. It means that that clock doesn’t start counting down to the statute of limitations until you actually know that you were harmed by your doctor. A good example of this is when you find that the surgeon left an instrument in your body after a surgery. The surgery date is August 10, 2015, but you don’t find out about the instrument until 2018, nor do you have problems until then. If you went by the standard rule, the statute of limitations would start counting down on the date of the surgery. But you didn’t discover the problem until three years later, so the timeline would probably start on the date you discovered the problem.

Minor Children

Children under the age of 18 also have exceptions to the standard rule. In most states, a minor child who is injured has an additional deadline to file a claim that begins on their 18th birthday.

The Statute of Repose

Finally, some states have an absolute deadline for filing medical malpractice cases. A statute of repose places a limit on when you can bring a claim, regardless of when it was discovered or occurred. The statute of repose is generally 10 years. Not all states have a statute of repose on their law books.

If you believe you are the victim of medical malpractice, consulting with a lawyer can help you know your rights to understand how long you have to bring a claim. 

Thanks to Cohen & Cohen for their expertise on the subject of medical malpractice and statute of limitations.

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