Do You Still Have Time? Medical Malpractice And Time Limits

Posted on: 17 May 2018

Dealing with an injury caused by negligence or carelessness can be bad enough, but if you wait too long to file a claim for damages, you end up missing out on compensation. A statute of limitations controls all types of crimes and cases, and the amount of time varies from state to state. Medical malpractice cases fall into the personal injury or civil category but the time limits for filing a case can be much shorter than for other personal injury situations. Read on to learn more about the statue of limitations on medical malpractice claims.

What is meant by a statute of limitations?

The law uses rules about lawsuits to make it as fair as possible for both sides. You may be looking at it from the side of the injured party, but the law is there for the defendants as well. Filing a lawsuit in a timely manner increases the chances for everyone's recollections to be as fresh as possible without impinging on the injured person's rights to know the full extent of their injuries. This law gives victims anywhere from a year to several years to act, so make sure you take action and speak to an attorney before it's too late.

When does the clock start ticking?

That depends on the nature of your injury. Medical malpractice injuries are different from most personal injuries due to how they occur. If you go into surgery and awaken to find that the wrong hip has been replaced, you have an immediate claim. You know about the injury, and so does the doctor and the medical facility. That means that the statute of limitations clock has begun to tick at the moment of your injury when you found out about the mistake.

Other cases are not as clear. For example, if a medical instrument or sponge was left in your abdominal cavity during an operation, it may take some time for problems to become obvious. Simmering issues like that fall into a different category known as the discovery of harm. There are many ways to be injured in a medical facility, and you may not know about it until later on. Thus, the statute of limitations begins to run when you know about the injury, or you should have known about the injury. If the injury would have been obvious to most people or if you suspected a problem but did not act on it, the statute of limitations could be back-tracked to when the court determined that you should have known about it.


Another issue has to do with not being able to take action due to the injury itself. If you acquire an infection in the hospital that could be tied to sub-standard sanitary measures, then you may be too sick to do anything but get better. Regardless of whether your illness lasts weeks or months or years, the statute of limitations does not begin to toll until you have been cleared by a doctor to be well enough to make legal decisions.

Taking action quickly could mean all the difference when it comes to medical malpractice injuries, so check out a website like for more information.


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