Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
In medical malpractice law, the statute of limitations refers to the period from the time an injury occurs or is discovered to the final date on which a medical malpractice suit can be filed. If the statute of limitations expires before a malpractice suit is filed, the defendant can have the case dismissed for being untimely. It is up to the defendant to alert the court of a statute of limitations violation.
When Must a Medical Malpractice Suit be Filed?
The statute of limitations will vary among claims and each state's medical malpractice law - the limit may range from six months to four years. In addition, in some states the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice suit may be delayed for an injured child until the child reaches a specific age.
When Does Time Begin?
The period of time during which a medical malpractice suit must be filed usually begins with the date of harm. For instance, a person who suffers injuries as a result of medical malpractice has a certain time period - starting from the date of the injury - to file a medical malpractice suit against the other party.
There are instances, however, in which an injury is not discovered for months or years after it occurs. In these cases, under medical malpractice law, the statute of limitations is applied when the injury is discovered or when the injury should have been discovered.
For example, a patient who suffers an injury as a result of a medical instrument being left inside the body during surgery will have a certain period of time starting from the date the mistake was discovered. If the patient begins to experience pain a month later, seeks treatment, and the mistake is found, the statute of limitations will apply starting from the date the mistake was discovered. If the patient delays treatment for months after having the pain, the starting date of the statute of limitations will most likely apply to the point at which the patient first began having the pain, when the mistake should have been discovered.
Speak to a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Those that have suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice should file a lawsuit with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.