If you consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is essential to know that there is a ticking clock after which the courts will refuse to admit your case. All civil lawsuits, including medical malpractice cases, can only be filed in court within a specific duration of time, known as a statute of limitations.
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Each state has a different statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, and you must meet the set deadlines and file your claim before your time window expires. This post will briefly explain the complex rules that govern how much time a patient gets to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
For professional analysis of your medical malpractice case and how much time you have left to file your lawsuit, it is advisable to visit an experienced lawyer in your area for a case consultation.
What Is The Standard Deadline In Your State?
The statute of limitations, which sets deadlines for the plaintiff (the person suing) to file a suit against the healthcare provider or doctor whose medical negligence caused the injury concerned, differs from state to state. Florida sets two standard deadlines in its statute of limitations. You are allowed to file a medical malpractice suit within two years of discovering the alleged medical negligence through due diligence.
Additionally, Florida’s statute of limitations sets a deadline for patients to file their medical malpractice lawsuit four years after the alleged negligent medical act or omission. Unlike the two-year deadline, the four-year one does not give regard to when you discovered the negligence and is only concerned with when the actual medical malpractice occurred.
The four-year deadline from the date of alleged medical malpractice includes a few exceptions for particular circumstances. These include cases involving minors and where your health provider acted fraudulently in an attempt to prevent you from discovering the medical malpractice. These specific circumstances can also void the two-year deadline.
How Much Time Does Your State Allow For Discovery?
The discovery rule acts as an exception to the standard deadline. Different states will have varying discovery rules. States found it necessary to introduce a discovery rule for medical malpractice lawsuits because, in some cases, patients may not discover the effects of the medical negligence for years after the alleged professional error.
Where a patient discovers the medical malpractice or its effects after the expiry of the standard deadline, their suit is admitted by the court regardless of the lapse of the normal duration. The discovery rule ensures that the validity of your case is renewed on the actual date you find out that you are a victim of medical malpractice and prevents it from being thrown out based on the date that the alleged negligence occurred.
What Special Considerations Does Your State Have For Minors?
If you are a worried parent or guardian trying to file a medical malpractice suit on your child, the law makes an exception for you. Most states have a different statute of limitations that applies explicitly to young children. Florida allows parents or guardians to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the standard four-year deadline has expired, provided the case is filed before the child turns eight years old.
Similarly, in cases where there may have been a fraudulent cover-up by the healthcare provider, parents are allowed to file the lawsuit after the standard seven-year deadline has lapsed, provided the suit is filed before the child’s eighth birthday.
Does Your State Extend Deadlines In Special Circumstances?
Some states like Florida allow patients and their lawyers to file a petition applying for a 90-day extension of the statute of limitations to conduct your investigation into the medical malpractice. Florida also pauses the clock on the statute of limitations for 90 days after your lawyer has served your healthcare provider with the notice of intent to file suit. You can rely on your lawyer’s experience and expertise to benefit from any loopholes that allow you to extend the statute of limitations when filing your medical malpractice lawsuit.
Does Your State Have A Statute Of Repose?
A statute of repose imposes an absolute deadline on medical malpractice claims. The final deadline does not regard the particular circumstances listed above, including discovery, fraudulently cover-up, or cases involving young children. The time deadline established by a statute of repose is absolute and indefeasible. It simply identifies a period from the date after the alleged medical negligence, after which you cannot file a malpractice lawsuit under any circumstances.