Medical Malpractice Law

Statute of Limitations

Victims of medical malpractice only have a limited time to file a lawsuit against negligent doctors and hospitals. The time limit to file a lawsuit is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is different for different types of medical claims. For a medical malpractice lawsuit, filing your case in court before the statute of limitations is essential to recovering damages for your injuries.

Each state has its own laws regarding the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. It would help if you talked to a medical malpractice lawyer in your area for specific legal advice and to ensure your claim is filed in time.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases?

The statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time to file a lawsuit in a personal injury or medical malpractice claim. The time to file a malpractice claim generally begins to run from the date of the medical care injury. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the injury victim may be unable to file a claim to recover damages.

Every state has a time limit to file a medical malpractice legal action. However, additional restrictions and exceptions to the statute of limitations deadline may exist. The statute can be extended when an injury is not discovered until a later date. In most states, the time limit does not begin to run for minors injured by medical malpractice until the child reaches a certain age.

The effects of the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case can be harsh. If you file your lawsuit even one day late, your case can be dismissed, and you may recover nothing for your injuries. This is why it is critical to talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as you discover a possible medical mistake to ensure your case is filed in time.

Statute of Limitations Laws in Different States

Each state has different timelines for medical malpractice claims, including different rules for minor victims, later discovered injuries, and even left-behind object injuries. The following are examples of the time limit for medical malpractice claims in different states.

In New York, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice action is two-years-and-six-months from the date of the injury. There are additional provisions for later discovered injuries and injury victims under 18.

In California, the time for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is three years from the date of the injury or one year after discovering the injury, whichever occurs first. There are also different time limits for a minor under six who suffered a medical error injury.

In Florida, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice injury is two years from the discovery of the medical injury but no more than four years from the date. There may be additional time for minors injured in a medical accident or where fraud or misrepresentation delayed discovery of the injury.

What Is the Discovery Rule in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Not all medical malpractice injuries are known from the moment they happen. Some medical injuries may take months or years before the patient learns about them. A parent may not know the extent of a birth injury until years after the child is born, when the child begins to show developmental delays.

For example, left-behind surgical errors occur when a surgical team leaves behind gauze, sponges, or other surgical equipment inside the patient’s body. The patient generally does not know about it at the time because they are under anesthesia. The foreign objects may cause an infection to develop and worsen. Left-behind object errors may take months or longer before they are discovered.

Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations does not run until the medical error is discovered or should reasonably have been discovered. This rule prevents injury victims unaware of the error from losing out on recovery because the statute of limitations has passed. However, many states limit the discovery rule timeline to a set number of years, regardless of when the error was discovered.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for a medical injury is generally two years. There is no specific provision under the discovery rule to allow for more time. If the damage is discovered after the two-year deadline, the injury victim can try to file the claim within a reasonable time after discovery. However, Texas also has a statute of repose that does not allow a claim to be filed more than ten years after the date of the injury.

In Illinois, most injury victims have two years from the date of a medical injury to file a lawsuit against a healthcare provider. However, if the injury was not discovered immediately, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the injury was discovered, but malpractice claims cannot be brought later than four years from the date of the medical error.

Statute of Limitations for Minors Injured by Medical Errors

It does not seem fair that a minor injury victim should be held to the same deadlines as an adult. In many states, there is additional time to file for a minor who suffered a medical mistake injury. The statute of limitations can be tolled or paused until the child reaches a certain age when the clock begins to run.

In Ohio, the statute of limitations is only one year from the date of the injury. However, for minors under 18, the time limit begins to run once they turn 18. This means most minors who suffer a medical injury have until they turn 19 to file a malpractice lawsuit.

In Virginia, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the negligent act. Minors under eight have until their tenth birthday to file a claim. Minors eight years or older are held to the same statute of limitations as adults in Virginia.

Statute of Limitations If the Patient Dies

If a patient dies because of a medical error, they are no longer alive to take their case to civil court. Instead, the family or beneficiaries may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the estate of the deceased or the family, depending on the state. However, there is still a time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of death. The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in North Carolina is two years from the date of discovery but not more than four years from the date of the injury. A wrongful death claim must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent.

In Michigan, the statute of limitations for someone who dies from a medical negligence error is three years from the date of death. This is slightly longer than the time limit for medical malpractice, which is two years and six months from the discovery of the injury.

How Do I Make Sure My Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Is Filed in Time?

The time limits for a medical injury can be short, but there may be exceptions that allow more time to file a lawsuit against the negligent medical professionals. Make sure your lawsuit is filed in time, or risk losing your chance to recover money for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Contact a medical malpractice attorney to ask about a free consultation to give you a case evaluation to help you understand your legal options.

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