Medical malpractice statute of limitations defines the maximum time period in which an injured patient can file a lawsuit or risk not being able to recover monetary compensation for the injuries. If a patient has been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, such as a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or anesthetist, he or she needs to file a medical malpractice claim within the time period established in the statute of limitations. Each state has its own statute of limitations with different time periods in which to file the claim.
Statute of limitations were created for several reasons, including allowing people to move on with their lives and not have legal battles from the past crop up long into the future, because people's memories fade over time, and because medical records and evidence may no longer exist over a long period of time.
It is important that a patient who has been injured by medical malpractice consult with a qualified medical malpractice attorney who understands the statute of limitations for the state the injury occurred in. If you are choosing an attorney who is not familiar with your state's statute of limitations or doesn't specialize in medical malpractice, you may find yourself missing critical time windows for filing your claim and therefore could lose your opportunity to collect damages for your injuries.
Statute of limitations in California for example can be complicated and there are a variety of exceptions that can alter the general time period for filing a claim, either extending the time period or reducing the time period to file. California recently changed the rule for personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents from one year to two years, however, medical malpractice, which is a subset of personal injury is still one year from the date of the negligent injury or death.
This brings an example of an exception to the time period where the time to file may be extended. If the plaintiff was not aware of the injury until a later date, the statute of limitations allows the plaintiff to bring the claim within one year after the date the plaintiff first became aware of the injury or should have become aware of the negligent act causing the injury. If this negligent act was a delay in diagnosing cancer for example, the plaintiff would have one year from the date the correct diagnosis was made to file a claim about the earlier diagnosis.
The reverse scenario may apply to a medical malpractice case whereby the hospital is owned or operated by a county or local administrative agency. In cases like this, the claim must be filed within 6 months of the negligent act; otherwise, the court will dismiss the lawsuit. There are exceptions for extending the time period to file, such as with a child who was injured by medical malpractice. In this case, the time period for filing may be extended up to a year.
If you or a family member has been injured because of medical malpractice, you should contact the best medical malpractice lawyer possible. Contact California medical malpractice lawyer Dr. Bruce G. Fagel for a free consultation. Dr. Fagel is both a top medical malpractice attorney and a licensed medical doctor.
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