Is there a time limit to file a medical malpractice claim?
Yes. There are state laws
that set a time limit for filing a lawsuit in every kind of civil case you can
imagine, and medical malpractice cases are no exception. This kind of law is
called a “statute of limitations,” because it effectively limits a prospective
plaintiff’s right to go to court and ask for a remedy after incurring some type
A statute of limitations
give you a certain number of years to go to court and get your lawsuit filed after
negligence occurs. A typical deadline is at least two years, but every
state’s deadline is different.
But what if you don’t know
you have a case right away? In almost every state, there is some version of an
exception known as the discovery
rule, which changes the filing deadline (or stops the tolling of the time)
if the medical negligence was not reasonably discoverable right away.
Also in many states, there
are special lawsuit deadlines for minors who have been harmed by medical
malpractice, and different rules typically exist when the defendant has
committed fraud or taken steps to conceal the malpractice.
What if you try to file
your lawsuit after the statutory window has closed? The court will refuse to
hear it, and you’ll lose the right to hold the defendant liable and get
compensation for your losses. That’s why understanding and complying with the
statute of limitations is critical for any medical malpractice plaintiff.
For a state-by-state
breakdown of the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases, click on
the link below.
by: David Goguen, J.D.