DON’T LET THE TIME SLIP AWAY – MEDICAL MALPRACTICE TIME LIMITS
One of the many frustrating aspects of speaking with the public about their concerns with medical care pertains to the time limits for medical malpractice lawsuits. Many times, a patient only has one year from the negligence to file a lawsuit, although there can be more or less time depending on the specific circumstances. Most people are unaware that the time period can be so short, and information they gather from friends or the internet is less than clear.
Practically speaking, a one year time period can often times work an undue and unjust burden on a patient. Certain types of medical procedures, especially surgeries, can be followed by a long period of disability and may involve a long recovery period. During these time periods, doctors and medical providers will frequently advise their patients to “be patient” if they are not meeting their recovery goals or have experienced complications in their recovery. For some therapies, full recovery may not be achieved until 18 months or more, and that assumes no post-procedure complications like wound infections or blood clots.
However, whether the laws will be interpreted to give a patient that long is a gray area. Many attorneys prefer to err on the side of extreme caution, and may be unwilling to consider, let alone accept, a case where more than a year has passed since the treatment giving rise to the injuries.
Here at Heiting & Irwin, we are compassionate towards individuals who are calling with a potential case, and will explore the matter as thoroughly as possible to try to find a path forward. We do not mind talking to someone who might be calling “a little early”, and would prefer to invest the time with an individual who calls well in advance of any potential deadlines rather than have to delicately explain that too much time has passed for us to help with anything. I think the most important thing to remember is to call as soon as a concern develops with the quality of care.