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Is There a Time Limit to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

June 14, 2017

medical malpractice statue of limitations

Medical malpractice cases are challenging. Due to the nature of medicine, there are many factors that add layers of complexity to a case. For example, there is an inherent risk in any medical procedure, healthcare providers are very well-protected, and there can be a lot of questions about who is actually liable for injuries in a medical setting.

For someone who’s already facing a sudden, dramatic change to their health, pursuing a medical malpractice case can be overwhelming.

If you are proceeding with a medical malpractice case in the state of Indiana, you need to move quickly the moment you realize you have a case. Each state has a statute of limitations during which medical malpractice cases must be filed, and any mistakes or delays could result in a delay in your recovery or being outright barred from recovering damages at all.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

The deadline for victims to file a lawsuit, including in cases of medical malpractice, is called the statute of limitations. If victims don’t file their case within the prescribed timeframe, they lose the right to sue, with a few exceptions. The statute of limitation for medical malpractice cases are often shorter than in other personal injury cases, and there are special requirements that must be fulfilled before a patient can sue. These requirements include where the claim is filed, what kind of paperwork needs to be filled out, and other requirements your attorney will walk you through.

In the state of Indiana, adult patients who are injured as a result of medical malpractice have two years from the date of the procedure to file their lawsuit. In most cases, the time starts when the healthcare provider either makes an error or fails to prevent an event that causes a medical injury.

If the injured patient was younger than six years old when the malpractice occurred, then the parents or guardians of the child have until the child turns eight to sue for medical malpractice. These years can go by quickly, and it can often take a full two or three years for a medical malpractice case to go through the system.

Statue of Limitations Exception: The Discovery Rule

One exception to the standard two-year deadline in Indiana is the discovery rule. Not all cases of medical malpractice are discovered the moment the event occurs. Some complications that don’t show up for months or even years and those medical malpractice claims are just as valid and life-changing.

Even if the standard statute of limitations expires, thanks to the discovery rule, people can still sue for medical malpractice when they have problems. This applies even if problems don’t arise until later in their lives. Cases include instances where patients had surgical equipment left inside of their bodies which aren’t discovered until they get an X-ray years after the procedure or cases where a later medical issue demonstrates the negligence of the physician.

This rule only applies to those patients who truly didn’t know they had the right to sue. The discovery rule starts the statute of limitations when a reasonable person had sufficient notice or the ability to realize they were a victim. If a patient sees multiple doctors after suspecting they have a problem but doesn’t take any action toward solving the problem or filing a lawsuit, the clock is going to start ticking.

It’s important not only to get your symptoms checked out but also to take legal steps to make sure you have the best chances of recovering a potential medical malpractice settlement.

Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorneys

No matter what your situation is, there is a time limit during which your medical malpractice case must be filed. Because of the complicated nature of these cases, it’s best to have an expert help you with your case. For decades, Indianapolis-area victims have turned to WKW for medical malpractice justice.

Timing and accuracy are of the essence, and your health and financial future are on the line. It’s important to have someone you can trust to help put your case together and stand up for your rights.

For a free, no-obligation consultation about your options, please call 317.920.6400 or contact us online.

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