January 21, 2022
Individual states determine the statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice claims. Most states adhere to a standard deadline that requires plaintiffs to file claims between two and six years following an incident or forfeit their right to sue. The Standard Deadline rule applies to most medical malpractice cases, including:
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to order appropriate tests
- Failure to address symptoms
- Poor follow-up
- Prescribing improper drugs or dosages
- Misreading test results
Medical malpractice law recognizes that the Standard Deadline rule does not apply to every valid medical malpractice claim. Therefore, these three accommodations may supersede it.
The Discovery Rule
Often patients do not realize they are victims of medical malpractice until years after an incident occurs. Patients may still sue for malpractice if they file their claims within their state’s statute of limitations that begins running from the date they become aware of the problem. Plaintiffs who do not want to risk the statute of limitations running out may opt to confirm their suspicions with the help of a medical professional. For example, a patient who experiences a latent infection due to a surgical instrument left inside the body must take reasonable steps to confirm the cause of the problem upon realizing the possible cause.
Minor Children Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice involving minors is another exception to the Standard Deadline rule. The timeline for the statute of limitations often does not begin until a child reaches adulthood. For example, children or their parents and guardians may sue for malpractice in some states within two years after the injured child’s eighteenth birthday. In other instances, plaintiffs may initiate claims for medical errors occurring during childhood even if the errors go undetected or do not produce symptoms until adulthood. However, all plaintiffs must still file within their state’s statute of limitations.
Statute of Repose
Some states impose a statute of repose for all medical malpractice claims. As a result, injured parties must file medical malpractice claims within a specified period even if they do not discover the issue until after the allowable period. A statute of repose provides no exceptions and can protect medical professionals from lawsuits years after an alleged error occurs.
When a trusted medical professional’s actions cause harm to you or your loved one, the long-term consequences can be devastating. Speak with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible if you suspect a medical error to ensure you understand your rights and your state’s statute of limitations for filing a claim.