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What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2017
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A statute of limitations for medical malpractice limits the amount of time people have to file a lawsuit after alleged malpractice has occurred. Such statues are common in many regions, but not always the same, and depending on where people live and where the damaging conduct of physicians or other medical personnel took place, people may have more or less time to make a claim for damages with the court system. There are other factors that come into play, and one issue that gets special consideration is whether damage was immediately apparent. If people don’t realize until years later, long after the statute of limitations for medical malpractice has expired, that some kind of injury or damage occurred during medical treatment, it may reset the clock, allowing for an additional period of time to file a claim. Given the complexity and variance of these statutes, people are advised to obtain local counsel with medical malpractice experience to determine if a case is still actionable.

There are plenty of examples of how some regions might construct a statute of limitations for medical malpractice. In the US state of Maine, for instance, those injured by medical practitioners usually have about three years to file a claim of medical malpractice. In Oregon, people have five years. Indianans are allowed two years, in most instances.

Sometimes, regions have exceptions to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice if the person injured is a minor child. Occasionally, limitations don’t begin until that child is an adult, if the parents of the child did not pursue a suit. Within statute laws there may also be restrictions on the amount of money that can be collected in a suit, and this might vary from a couple hundred thousand US Dollars (USD) to over a million. Additional award levels are usually given for any medical or physical care required by the injured person.

As mentioned, there are instances where the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is set aside to a certain degree. People discovering years later they’ve received some form of damage may have more time to present a case. There are still limitations, and former patients may have to file the suit in the same time period allotted to those who discovered immediate damage from medical injury. The main distinction is the limitation on time begins with the discovery. The person in Indiana who discovers surgical instruments were left in his body after a surgery ten years ago would likely have two years from the point of discovery to begin a lawsuit.

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