Personal Injury Attorney
As with any type of lawsuit, there is a time limit to sue for medical malpractice. It’s called the statute of limitations, and it varies from state to state. Most hover around two to four years, though there are some states that only allow one year for you to file and others that could allow ten years based on the type of malpractice that occurred. It’s best to speak with your lawyer immediately to find out how long you have to file your lawsuit so you get it done on time.
Filing After the Deadline
Unfortunately, if you try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, it will probably be dismissed. In legal terms it has “time-barred” and you don’t have a right to compensation any more. There are some exceptions you should understand, however, and you might be able to work your way around the statute if your situation qualifies.
The Discovery Rule
One exception to the typical statute of limitations is the discovery rule. This is an extension granted to individuals who do not discover that malpractice has occurred until a later time. The statute would then begin to tick once the discovery has been made. For example, perhaps a patient had surgery in 2015 and thought everything went well. In 2017, he or she began to have serious health problems and the doctor found a foreign object inside the patient’s body that was left there during the 2015 surgery. Instead of the statute beginning in 2015, it would begin in 2017 when the patient discovered malpractice.
Children Under Age Eighteen
If a minor was injured at the fault of a medical professional, he or she cannot file a lawsuit until 18 years of age. Because of this, even if the malpractice occurred when the patient was eight years old, the statute of limitations would not begin until his or her 18th birthday. In a state with a two-year statute of limitations, the patient would have until he or she is 20 years old to file the lawsuit.
The Statute of Repose
Some states have something called a “statute of repose.” This is a final deadline for which an individual has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit regardless of discovery. For example, if a state has a ten-year provision for a statute of repose, and a patient discovers an injury nine years later, he or she would only have one year to get the lawsuit filed before forfeiting the right to compensation.
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be confusing and tiring. Contact a hospital malpractice lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah to learn more and to get the assistance you need to make your way through the process.
Thanks to Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into medical malpractice and the right timing for a lawsuit.