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How a Medical Malpractice Claim Can Be Affected by the Statute of Limitations

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The term ‘statute of limitations’ often comes up in conversation when discussing any kind of lawsuit where a person wants to file a claim against another person or entity.

It can be kind of confusing if you have never had to file a claim before, however, knowing more about it will certainly prove helpful if you believe that you have a valid medical malpractice claim but are not sure whether it is worth going after. Luckily, we have gathered all the information you need to know about how this law can affect your medical malpractice claim so that you can find out for yourself whether or not you have a chance at getting compensation for what you went through because of the carelessness of a physician or medical institution.

1- What Is Medical Malpractice?

Before going into any details about this law, it is important to understand exactly what medical malpractice is. Basically, if you have had any kind of procedure done or been treated by a physician that has caused you mental or physical health issues, then you have the right to file a claim for malpractice against this physician or the institution in which you received the care. Of course, this solely depends on what actions caused you these issues. For example, if you had an operation and the surgeon caused you any harm which in turn resulted in you being in a worse health condition or even dead, you, or your family in some cases, can file a complaint against that surgeon. Other malpractices include being misdiagnosed or prescribed drugs that are detrimental to your health and do not actually treat the issue that you have but rather cause deterioration. It can also entail a lack of proper medical procedures such as sterilization or aftercare.

2- What Is the Statute of Limitations?

To avoid having claims filed for crimes that occurred a long time ago, which can make it hard for the judicial system to actually reach a proper resolution, a law was issued entitled the statute of limitations. Basically, this law gives a deadline detailing exactly how long a person has to file a claim against someone. Each crime has its own deadline. For example, theft has a deadline that differs from crimes such as malpractice or forgery. The only crime that does not have a statute of limitations is murder.

3- Difference Between States

You might think that the same law applies to all states when it comes to the duration of time you have to legally claim that your physician has done something that constitutes malpractice. However, each state has a different time limit. A simple online search can provide you with all the information you need about the statute of limitations set by your state for the specific claim you want to file. If you live in Illinois, you can simply search for the medical malpractice statute of limitations in Illinois, and you will find out just how much time you have left to file a claim against the person or entity in question. For malpractice cases, the deadline usually ranges from about four to ten years based on the state you are in.

4- Effects of Statute of Limitations on a Medical Malpractice Claim:

Now that you have more information about what this law entails, you need to understand why it is important and how it can actually affect your case.

a) Dismissal of Case

If you are already past the statute, but you still decide to go ahead with the claim, then it can be dismissed by the opposing side if they can provide evidence that your claim was filed after the deadline set by the state. This can be frustrating because you could have your entire life destroyed by the negligence of someone and not get any compensation because you missed your chance at having a viable case against him or her. This is why it is important to file a case as soon as you are able to so that you can get the compensation you deserve.

b) Lower Settlement

If by some chance, your claim is accepted, which is possible if you have exceptional legal counsel that can help you navigate these rules, then you might get compensation. However, the settlement or compensation you reach may not be as much as you had hoped for.

5- Exception to the Law

There is one case in which the statute of limitations may be circumvented. This is called the discovery rule and it is actually mentioned within a state’s statute of limitations laws to ensure that the person filing a claim gets a chance to file a claim even after a substantial amount of time has passed since the malpractice occurred. This is called the discovery rule. Basically, if it is in effect from the moment you discover that such malpractice occurred. For example, if a person had a procedure done a couple of years before he started feeling the negative effects, and it turned out to be caused by the negligence of the physician who did the procedure, then they get to have some time to file a claim. The discovery rule also differs from one state to another, sometimes the person has a couple of months since the discovery of malpractice to act while in other states they can have years to file for the claim.

As we have mentioned repeatedly in the previous points, the statute of limitations can differ from one state to another, so it is important to find out exactly what you are dealing with in terms of deadlines. This is going to ensure that you are aware of your rights and what legal action you can take against those who have caused you unnecessary health issues that could have been avoided if they had done their job properly. With professional legal counsel and proper knowledge, you can get the compensation you deserve for your suffering.


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