Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured because of an error or mistake made by a doctor or medical professional, you might feel as if you should “wait and see” what happens with your injury before pursuing your legal options. On the other hand, you might feel confused and overwhelmed about the idea of filing a claim; therefore, be reluctant to doing anything even though you know deep inside your doctor made a mistake. This might be the easiest way to handle a situation like this, but it is certainly not the smarted.
Under state laws, you are required to pursue legal remedies for medical malpractice within a certain time period. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, which is typically between one and three years, depending on the state and type of claim, you may not be able to recover compensation. This is regardless of the merit of the claim and how much you have lost.
In general, even though medical malpractice falls within personal injury law, the statute of limitations are often shorter than other types of personal injury torts. Even if you’re unsure about whether or not you have a claim, or want to pursue one, it may be in your best interest to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. If legal action is recommended, your opportunity to recover damages may be preserved from here on, out.
When Does the Time Constraints Begin in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Every court, and state, has a different view on exactly when the statute of limitations begins on a medical malpractice case. The difference of these views is a reflection and an interpretation of how the statute is actually written. Furthermore, it may reflect the court’s’ opinion on the merit of the case and also the importance of protecting the victim versus safeguarding the medical professional.
In our experience, some courts state that the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice case begins immediately after the occurrence of the act, or upon the plaintiff claiming that an error has occurred. Other courts have said that the time limits start when the malpractice actually causes further harm. Another view from the court has ruled that the deadline begins as soon as the plaintiff discovered, or should have discovered, an injury occurred because of a medical error. Finally, it is possible for the courts to say that the statue begins as soon as the treatment is finalized.
If the victim of medical malpractice loses their life, the statute of limitations becomes even more complex. At this point, the court would need to decide whether or not the statute pertaining to a wrongful death applies, or will the time constraint be associated with medical malpractice statutes. After this is decided, the court will need to further discuss the action that triggered the statute of limitations. This might be as soon as the plaintiff died or when the alleged action that caused the death occurred. This time could be significantly different.
A court might also state that the statute starts when the plaintiff discovered the injury, or should have discovered the injury, that eventually led to the death was the result of malpractice. Finally, in the matter of a loss of life, the court could rule that the statute of limitations begins from the date of the last and final treatment. This would not necessarily mean the date of death, but could be days, weeks, or months before the plaintiff died.
Even though statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases can clearly be found online, for every state, there are a number of specific circumstances that can change the limits for filing a claim. You should talk with a personal injury attorney Longwood, FL trusts to find out exactly when the deadline is for your own case.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at David & Philpot, PL for their insight into personal injury and medical malpractice cases.