Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitation – Why You Should Care

When you go see a doctor, you expect to walk away from them better than when you came in. This is often not the case. Some patients who seek medical care wind up worse off than before, some even dying from the negligence of a medical professional. If you have been injured by the actions or inaction of a medical professional, you may have a medical malpractice case on your hands. Due to statutes of limitations, you should talk with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a deadline, set by law, for when you can bring a complaint in court. Different types of cases have different statutes of limitation. If you do not file your case before the statute of limitations runs, you cannot sue to protect your rights. This is why time is of the essence when medical malpractice and other personal injury accidents occur.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit is two years from the date of the injury, or two years from the date you discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) that you had been injured. You might be scratching your head at that distinction, but imagine you had surgery that, in the initial recovery period, looked like everything was a success. Then, months later, you have pain that won’t go away. X-rays of the surgical site reveal that the surgeon left forceps in your abdominal cavity, which is causing you pain. Now, the date that the statute of limitations began would be the day you found out the surgeon left some extra parts behind, rather than the date the surgery occurred.

For birth injuries, another form of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is quite a bit longer in New Jersey. In those cases, any lawsuit must be filed before the child’s 13th birthday.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in New York?

In New York, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims is a bit different than in New Jersey. In New York, you have 2 ½ years from the date you were injured to file a lawsuit. If the malpractice occurred during a course of treatment, that deadline clock does not begin to run until the last day of treatment.

When it comes to finding foreign objects left in your body, New York has it’s own rule for that as well. In those cases, a patient has one year from the earlier of the date of discovery, or the discovery of facts leading to the realization that there is a foreign object left in the body, to file a lawsuit.

What Happens if You Try to File a Medical Malpractice Claim After the Statute of Limitations has Run?

If you file a complaint after the statute of limitations period has run, the person or entity that you are suing will likely file what’s known as a “motion to dismiss” and get the judge to dismiss the case. This means you have no recourse against the person or entity that you believe caused you harm.

If you have been injured by the actions of a medical professional, contact our team at Nagel Rice, LLP today to discuss your medical malpractice case.