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Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Deadlines

Under State laws, any patient or family member can pursue a civil claim against a hospital, doctor, or any other healthcare provider. This claim is known as medical malpractice or medical liability. When a healthcare provider fails to act according to the medical standard of care and their negligent actions or omissions cause an injury or death to a patient, they can be held liable. 

If you want to sue for medical malpractice, it is crucial to pay attention to the deadline to sue or the statutory time limit to adhere to get your lawsuit filed in court. Each state has its specific deadlines, also known as the statute of limitations. The statutes of limitations for medical malpractice cases are complicated. This is mainly because of the nature of the cases. Here are the time limits on medical malpractice claims

Standard Deadlines

The standard deadline is the first part of the statute of limitations. It gives the victim a specific number of years, mostly anywhere between two to six years, depending on the State, within which to file a lawsuit. The time is calculated from the day the malpractice occurred. 

If the victim does not file a lawsuit within the set deadline, they lose their right to sue. For example, if the standard deadline for the statute of limitations within your state is three years, you have exactly three years beginning from the date of the incident to file the lawsuit. However, there are exceptions to this rule. 

The Discovery Rule

This is one of the exceptions to the standard deadline. States added this rule because many medical malpractice victims failed to know if they have a claim until some years later, maybe after the standard statute of limitations has expired. Several people were losing their right to compensation, and the Discovery Rule was introduced to fix that. 

Though this rule varies from state to state, it generally allows the statute of limitations to be extended in cases where a person discovers that they are a victim of medical malpractice after several years. According to some States, the date of the statute of limitations starts from the date the victim discovers that they were harmed or knew the cause of their injury. 

The Continuous Treatment Rule

Some states have enacted this rule, and it means that the statute of limitations begins once the hospital or healthcare provider stops treating a patient for the condition in question. For example, if a surgeon makes an error during an operation and causes harm to the patient, yet they continue to treat the patient for the injury for some years, the deadline does not start until the doctor has stopped treating the patient. 

Statute of Limitations for Minors

For children under the age of eighteen, their parents or legal guardians have a different deadline. States have a different statute of limitations for minors because some injuries, for example, birth injuries, can take too long to be discovered. 

The Statute of Repose

Some states have the statute of repose. It imposes a complete deadline on any medical malpractice claim irrespective of when the injuries were discovered. For example, the rule can state that no one can file a medical malpractice lawsuit after ten years from the date of the injury. 

Consult a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice lawsuits and their statute of limitations are complicated. If you suspect that you are a victim, you should talk to a medical malpractice lawyer immediately. This will help you know your legal right and also ensure that you do not miss your state’s statute of limitations if your claim is valid.