There can be exceptions to the medical malpractice statute of limitations based on the discovery rule. In certain circumstances – especially those involving medical procedures, care and treatment – patients may not be immediately ware that their injuries were caused by negligence. They may believe them normal side effects or complications of a medical procedure or treatment.
Let’s say someone undergoes abdominal surgery. The surgeon and nurses fail to notice that a sponge was left inside the patient. After the wound is closed up and the person is eventually discharged, he begins to experience severe pain. It’s not immediately clear if it’s just part of the recovery or something else.
A period of time passes during which the patient makes efforts to reduce the pain. Eventually the patient has an X-ray, which discovers the sponge. It may have been a few days, weeks or even longer has passed since the surgery. The statute of limitations wouldn’t begin until the injury was actually discovered.
Other examples in which there may be a delay in discovering illness or injury was caused by medical negligence:
The discovery rule does have a limit, however. Patients cannot file a claim more than four years after the event that caused injury. So if it takes a long time to figure out what caused injury or illness, there may be the risk of running out of time. It’s always best to consult with an attorney when there is even a suspicion that medical negligence is an issue.
However, if a patient does not discover the cause of injury within three years but discovers it before the four-year limitation, he or she can still file a claim within one year of discovery. So if the four-year period is set to expire December 31, and the patient discovers the injury December 1, he or she can file the claim within a year of December 1 despite the expiration of the four-year period.
There are also exceptions to the four-year rule, such as when the patient is a minor, for those of "unsound mind", cases where a foreign object is left in the body, and a few others.
If you are a victim of medical negligence, ensure you begin your medical malpractice case within the statute of limitations. Ryan, LLP in Cleveland helps victims file their claim on time, collect the proper evidence, and build a convincing case. Call 877-864-9495 to set up your appointment to consult.