Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

OpinionFront Staff Nov 1, 2018
Simply put, medical malpractice statute of limitations is the stipulated period within which the victim can initiate legal proceedings against the said medical institution.
According to the medical malpractice law, the phrase 'medical malpractice statute of limitations' refers to the stipulated period starting from the time when the injury occurs/is discovered, to the last date on which the malpractice lawsuit can be filed.
Medical malpractice refers to an act of negligence by medical professionals, which results in further depreciation in the patients health and may eventually result in his death. At times, it maybe purely related to misdiagnoses of a particular treatment. At other times, it maybe a serious case of criminal offense done on purpose for financial gains.
Statute of limitations is a legislative act in a common law legal system, which determines the maximum period within which the legal proceedings pertaining to the said incident can be initiated. The statute of limitations may differ according to region and seriousness of the issue. In the United States, it differs from state to state.

Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases

It is the time-frame within which the lawsuit pertaining to the alleged incident of malpractice must be filed. This time-frame usually begin from the day on which the injury was caused to the victim. The victim has a specific time-frame, the day on which the injury was caused or discovered, to file a case against the said institute/medical practitioner.
The stipulated period may vary from state to state, as well as claim to claim. It usually ranges from six months to five years. In Virginia, for instance, the amount of time the victim has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the said institute is two years from the date on which the injury was caused.
In Washington DC, on the other hand, the same is three years. Once the said period is over, the victim cannot file a lawsuit―even if he is genuinely on the right side of the law.
There are some exceptions though. For eg., some injuries are only discovered after a specific period. In such case, the statute is enforced by taking the date on which the injury was discovered as the commencement of the stipulated period. If the victim is a minor, the law ease delaying of the statute of limitations until the victim becomes a legal adult.
The defendant, i.e., the said institute or doctor, who has been charged with the case of medical malpractice, has the full authority of dismissing the case, if it is filed after the statute has expired. In fact, it's the duty of the defendant to alert the court of law in case of the violation of the statute.
The statute of limitations makes it important to avoid unnecessary delays, when it comes to cases of medical malpractice. Any lingering illness or injury that crops up after a surgery or any other medical process should be properly examined to determine the cause of the ailment.
If there is any doubt about 'it' being an instance of malpractice, a case should be filed in the court of law after consulting an attorney specializing in such cases.