Learn about the time limit within which patients have to bring a lawsuit against a doctor, nurse or hospital for medical malpractice in Louisiana.
Each state has its own laws regarding the time period for legally bringing a medical malpractice claim. In most states, this time period is referred to as the statute of limitations. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations is called the "prescriptive period" or "prescription."
The Prescriptive Period is One Year, But...
For medical malpractice claims, the prescriptive period in Louisiana is one year from the date the victim either knew or should have known of the medical malpractice. If the victim did not know and should not have known about the malpractice then, a claim can be brought within one year from the discovery of the claim, provided however, that no claim may ever be brought more than 3 years from the date of the alleged malpractice. The part of the law that limits ALL claims to no more than 3 years from the date of the malpractice is commonly called a "statute of repose". It means that even if a victim was the subject of malpractice and did not find out about that until 3 years and one day, the victim's claim is time barred by prescription in Louisiana.
Other Important Time Limits
In addition to the one year prescriptive period to file a claim of medical malpractice in Louisiana, there are other prescriptive periods that apply to a claim after it has been filed. For instance, in Louisiana, a claim must first be submitted to a medical review panel before it can be filed in court. The one year period discussed above applies to filing the request for review by a medical review panel. This starts the process. Once the medical review panel has issued an opinion as to whether or not malpractice was committed, a claimant only has 90 days from receipt of the panel opinion to file the suit in state district court. If that claim is not filed within that 90 day period, then the claim is time-barred (prescribed).
Time Limits Relating to the Type of Medical Professional
The Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, (La. R.S. 40:1299.42 et seq), only applies to health care providers who are deemed to be "qualified health care providers." A qualified health care provider is one that has paid certain premiums into a fund called the Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund. If a health care provider is NOT a qualified health care provider and a request for a medical review panel has been filed against that health care provider, the Patient's Compensation Fund will notify the victim that the physician or health care provider is NOT QUALIFIED. Louisiana law requires that a victim file a claim in state district court within 90 days following notification that a physician or health care provider is not a qualified health care provider. Otherwise, the claim will be time barred (prescribed).