What is the Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical Malpractice Claim

Hospitals and physicians offices are generally the places people go when they need help. Medical facilities are generally thought of as being the safest places on the planet. Doctors and nurses are generally thought of as being conscientious, pragmatic and the most trusted professionals. As trusted and as skilled as healthcare professionals are, there are times when errors are made. When mistakes are made by medical professionals, the injuries sustained as the result of their mistakes are devastating and can be catastrophic or even fatal.

Expectations and Variations

No one expects to go to a medical provider for help and have an incident occur which leaves them maimed or worse. When a person has lost a limb, or the ability to speak after being intubated, they don’t have a lot of time to file a claim to ensure they get a settlement they deserve, which is why anyone that has been injured by a medical professional needs to seek the help of a skilled attorney who has a solid record of handling medical malpractice claims.

One of the reasons people who are looking to file a medical malpractice claim need to secure the services of an attorney is because of the statutes of limitations, and the volume of documentation one would need to present to file a claim. The statutes of limitations vary by state, however for people living in the state of Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years. Two years may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t. Preparing to file a medical malpractice claim can be complicated and frustrating. Medical malpractice cases are complex, and their success depends on a number of variables.

The Clock Starts Ticking

It is important to understand that the clock starts ticking on the date the alleged incident that caused the injury occurred. Most states will make an exception to this rule, as there are circumstances where a patient is not aware that they were the victim of medical malpractice. In these types of cases the courts will extend the time on the clock until a person discovers or should have been made aware of the fact that they have been victimized by an act of medical negligence. This is called the discovery exemption.

Understanding the discovery exemption is difficult for most people to comprehend, however the rule is there to help people who really had no way of knowing they were injured by a medical provider until some time had passed, and they began to have symptoms. It is important to note, the discovery rule, just like the statute of limitations varies from state to state. When the rule is applied, some states extend the statute of limitations for a number of years, while others only extend them by one or two years. Depending on the state, the discovery rule might only apply in certain instances, like a surgeon leaving a sponge or a pair of pickups inside a person’s abdominal cavity.

Cases Involving Minor Children

The statute of limitations for minor children often differ from those in cases involving adults. The courts recognize any person under the age of eighteen as a minor. In the state of Pennsylvania any child who is injured due to medical negligence has seven years from the date they reach 20 years of age to file a claim regardless of when they were injured. In the instances where either a child or an adult dies, and a wrongful death has occurred, the statute of limitations is no later than two years past the date of the person’s demise.

Types of Medical Malpractice Cases

There are a number of categories of medical malpractice cases. In some states the statute of limitations will vary based on the type of injury sustained. If you have had cancer misdiagnosed by a hospital or doctor in England, for example, there is a general time limit of three years from when the injury is realised for someone to make a misdiagnosis claim. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice cases include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Birth Injuries which include conditions like Erb’s palsy and cerebral palsy
  • A misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose heart attacks, cancer or a stroke
  • Anesthesiology errors which includes injuries due to the failure of the medical team to properly monitor a patient, overdosing of a patient, the failure of the medical team to check for allergies to medications
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect like malnutrition, unexplained bruises, broken bones, pressure injuries, bedsores and rears in skin.
  • Emergency room errors including the transfer or the early release of a patient, delay of treatment and discharging a patient without an appropriate evaluation of symptoms

Time is of the Essence

Once a person, or their family member discovers they have been injured as the result of negligence or some other type of failure of a medical practitioner, it is important that they contact an attorney who can help them as soon as they can. Because of the complexities of these types of cases, it generally takes a team of people working together to obtain all the information necessary to file and present the strongest case possible.[adsense]

Oftentimes attorneys will add medical professionals like physicians, legal nurse consultants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists to assist them during the preparation of the case, and during the court proceedings. In addition, attorneys have members of their staff that are dedicated to tracking down all the medical records from the medical providers involved, and any other pertinent information needed to present as strong a case as possible in a timely manner.