What is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim?
Medical malpractice is an unfortunate beast to have to tangle with, and there are all too many things to have to worry about when trying to receive compensation when you have been a victim of it. Proving it is one of the key factors that goes into it, but just as important as finding evidence to substantiate your claim, you need to do so in a timely manner. This is due to the fact that certain states have different statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim. Statutes of limitation vary from state to state, although some states may have similar or even identical laws relating to how statutes of limitations on certain crimes are handled. So for Pennsylvanians, it begs the question: what is their statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim?
Understanding the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania
Just to get straight to the point, Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim of two years. If a person fails to file within this time period, with only few exceptions, they will be unable to file a medical malpractice claim. The reason why there is a statute of limitations is to ensure that prosecutors only prosecute people based on evidence that has not deteriorated. The length will vary based on the severity and the need to prosecute — for instance, murder typically does not have a statute of limitations — but as evidence deteriorates and thus becomes less reliable, there increases a distinct risk that the prosecutor may wrongfully convict someone based on faulty evidence. It may be an unfortunate outcome for those who missed out on the opportunity to file their medical malpractice claim, but in truth, all too many people have been pursued based on old, faulty evidence, and statutes of limitations are designed to reduce that the best they can.
While there is a two-year limit on filing a medical malpractice suit, there are various factors that go into determining various factors surrounding that date, as well as when the timer begins to tick down. While a medical malpractice case can begin as early as when the actual injury occurs, though the countdown will only begin at the point that the victim realized they had sustained these injuries. This is referred to as the discovery rule. So basically, a doctor cannot be off the hook for the injury just by saying “well, they didn’t find out until two years after I caused the injury.” However, there is a limit to this, regardless of how long you take to discover the injury. Rather than being an infinitely long span of time you can file, there is still a secondary clock that is ticking away. Once that clock spans seven years, you cannot file, regardless of when you discovered the injury. This seven-year span of time is referred to as the statute of repose. Yet, there are even exceptions to this rule. Regardless of whether seven years has passed, if it is discovered that a foreign object has been left within someone, they have two years upon discovering this fact to file their medical malpractice claim. This is also true if a victim of medical malpractice died, and the cause of death was covered up by the doctor or someone else involved in the medical malpractice.
Another exception to the statute of limitations is if the victim of the medical malpractice is underage. Much like how the clock is stopped in the event that the injury has yet to be discovered, the clock is stopped until the victim hits the age of 18. So basically, they have until their 20th birthday to file. Of course, any of the above-mentioned exceptions also apply in the case of a child victim of medical malpractice. Children are treated as a special exception to the statute of limitations, mainly due to how severe it is to cause an injury to a child, and that statute of limitations exception works to make that clear. By having a longer span of time to file a medical malpractice claim against a doctor for a child, this ensures that more care is taken with the health and safety of child patients. Granted, one should not need to have threat of a medical malpractice claim hanging over their head to take that care, but hey, what can you do?
One of the hardest parts of filing a medical malpractice claim is the claim itself. Going to court is certainly not a walk in the park, whether or not you have a qualified lawyer on your side representing you. This is a big part of why settlements are often the most ideal outcome for you, depending — of course — on whether the settlement offer is adequate to cover the damages you incurred from having been the victim of medical malpractice. A good lawyer will not only be able to facilitate a settlement better than if you were trying to represent yourself in such a case, but they can also negotiate for you a better settlement. Certain people are more or less receptive than others to certain negotiation tactics, and the lawyer will adjust their tactics accordingly. Either way, having a lawyer will mean that the odds of your medical malpractice claim succeeding is going to be that much more likely to be successful. If you are the victim of medical malpractice and are ready to take this to court, be sure to get in contact with medical malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you will no longer be able to file one in the first place.