No one expects a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional to cause them additional harm when they visit a facility for medical treatment, yet negligence in the healthcare field occurs all too often. Victims who experience injuries caused by healthcare providers are often left with expensive medical bills, months or years of recovery, and lost wages that make it impossible to support their families while they heal. Compared to other types of personal injury claims, medical malpractice cases tend to be extremely complicated, difficult, and time-consuming. Even seemingly minor mistakes can impact your ability to recover the compensation you are owed or result in the court dismissing your case before it begins.
If you sustained an injury due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, it is crucial to understand the laws in your state to ensure you prepare your claim accurately according to state guidelines and file your claim within the mandatory statute of limitations. Review the following information to learn how much time you have to file your claim, then contact the Law Office of Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates today to get started on your case.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations by State
Every state contains certain statutes or civil codes that require medical malpractice plaintiffs to file their claims within a specific time period (statute of limitations) after sustaining the injury before the claim becomes invalid. Some states provide an alternative statute of limitations in cases where the plaintiff did not discover their injury until a later date or would have been expected to discover the injury using reasonable diligence.
Barring special exceptions, US states adhere to the statutes of limitations listed below:
- Alabama – 2 years
- Alaska – 2 years
- Arizona – 2 years
- Arkansas – 2 years
- California – 3 years from date of injury or 1 year after discovering the injury
- Colorado – 2 years
- Connecticut – 2 years
- Delaware – 2 years
- District of Columbia – 3 years
- Florida – 2 years
- Georgia – 2 years
- Hawaii – 2 years
- Idaho – 2 years
- Illinois – 2 years
- Indiana – 2 years
- Iowa – 2 years
- Kansas – 2 years
- Kentucky – 1 year
- Louisiana – 1 year
- Maine – 3 years
- Maryland – 5 years from date of injury or 3 years after discovering the injury
- Massachusetts – 3 years
- Michigan – 2 years
- Minnesota – 4 years
- Mississippi – 2 years
- Missouri – 2 years
- Montana – 3 years
- Nebraska – 2 years
- Nevada – 3 years
- New Hampshire – 2 years
- New Jersey – 2 years
- New Mexico – 3 years
- New York – 2.5 years
- North Carolina – 3 years
- North Dakota – 2 years
- Ohio – 1 year
- Oklahoma – 2 years
- Oregon – 2 years
- Pennsylvania – 2 years
- Rhode Island – 3 years
- South Carolina – 3 years
- South Dakota – 2 years
- Tennessee – 3 years from date of injury or 1 year after discovering the injury
- Texas – 2 years
- Utah – 2 years
- Vermont – 3 years
- Virginia – 2 years
- Washington – 3 years
- West Virginia – 2 years
- Wisconsin – 3 years
- Wyoming – 2 years
Q: What are the most common forms of medical malpractice?
A: Healthcare providers and facilities can commit medical malpractice in a variety of ways, but the most common involve:
- Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose
- Failure to properly treat a patient, such as neglecting to order necessary tests, failing to offer appropriate and timely care, or refusing to refer a patient to a specialist when further assistance is needed
- Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong body part, using the wrong procedure, or failing to monitor a patient’s vital signs for indications of distress
- Medication errors, such as prescribing a medication that causes a severe allergic reaction, administering the wrong dosage, or filling a prescription for the wrong medication
- Birth injuries that impact the mother and/or child throughout the pregnancy, during labor, or after childbirth
Q: Is there a time limit to file a medical malpractice suit?
A: California state law establishes the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims as the shorter of three years from the date of sustaining an injury, or one year from the date the injury and the fact that it might have been due to medical negligence should reasonably have been discovered, whichever comes first. Although the three-year limitations period extends the time for filing “delayed discovery” cases, those actions must still be filed within one year from the date on which the injury and the possibility that it might have been due to a healthcare provider’s negligence reasonably should have been discovered. For minors, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of injury, or, for victims aged six years old or younger, three years from the date of injury, or before the child’s eighth birthday, whichever occurs first.
Q: Are there exceptions to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice?
A: In California, the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case, as explained above, may be extended under certain limited circumstances, such as:
- The healthcare provider committed fraud.
- The healthcare provider knowingly and intentionally concealed unlawful behavior.
- The plaintiff found a foreign object or material inside their body that would have no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or consequence.
- The parent or guardian of a minor child who suffers from medical negligence colluded with a healthcare provider or insurer in failing to take legal action on behalf of the child.
- The plaintiff was serving on active duty with any branch of the United States Military.
Q: Is there a cap on damages I can recover in a medical malpractice case?
A: California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 limits the amount of compensation that plaintiffs can recover for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. These damages include pain and suffering, permanent disability or disfigurement, and other losses that negatively impact quality of life. According to MICRA, plaintiffs can recover a maximum of $250,000 in non-economic damages for a medical malpractice claim.
Unfortunately, this law has not changed since it was enacted over 40 years ago, meaning the cap has not kept pace with inflation. In November 2022, California voters will have the opportunity to change the law by voting in favor of the Fairness for Injured Patients Act, which would increase the cap on non-economic damages to $1.2 million.
Protect Your Right to Compensation
If you sustained an injury due to medical negligence, securing legal representation right away is vital for protecting your rights and recovering the compensation you deserve. At Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates, our attorneys understand the unique challenges involved in medical malpractice cases and have decades of experience helping clients obtain justice and restitution for their injuries. Our team can help you determine if your claim is valid, handle all the technical aspects of your case, and explore every possible avenue to ensure you can regain financial stability and move forward after an injury. Contact us today to discuss your case.