After seeking medical attention for any harm caused by the negligence of a medical professional in providing treatment to a patient, the injured party should seek prompt legal advice as to available options, including how to initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice suits are professional liability litigation filed against the healthcare provider and his or her insurer by the injured patient. In some cases, class action lawsuits might be an option, as well as product liability suits for defective medical products and/or devices involved in underlying injuries. Regardless of the type of suit selected, a claimant must be timely in pursuing legal remedies or risk the options being affected by the applicable statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit is the time in which a patient claimant has to file a lawsuit for alleged malpractice. The amount of time available to an injured claimant varies from one state to the next. However, each state imposes a time limit in the form of a statute of limitations. Therefore, it is imperative to bring a medical malpractice case during that specified time period.
In some states, the statute of limitations can be extended. Extensions in those cases usually depend on when the claimant made a discovery of the medical professional's negligence and the resulting harm. This grounds for an extension is referred to in most jurisdictions as the discovery rule. States often permit a claimant to have a few years from the date of a patient's discovery of negligence by the medical professional and the resulting harm to file litigation.
The statute of limitations varies by state. An injured patient and potential claimant in a medical malpractice scenario needs to know applicable rules of his or her state to ascertain the mandatory period within which to file a claim to be timely and survive a statute of limitations challenge from the defendant medical provider. Many states provide for two or three years in which to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some states provide claimants with only 180 days, while others specify 30 months. Some states provide potential claimants with one or four years.
Many states have provisions for special circumstances that serve as exceptions to the time limitations under applicable statutes of limitation. There are exceptions in most instances for patients with objects left in them after surgeries, reproductive injuries caused to minor patients, birth-related injuries and brain-damage injuries.