Is there a time limit to file a medical malpractice claim?


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Question:

Is there a time limit to file a medical malpractice claim?

Answer:

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 of harm.

A statute of limitations give you a certain number of years to go to court and get your lawsuit filed after medical 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: , J.D.

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