Everyone wants to believe that they can trust their doctor to do the right thing during surgical procedures, and for the most part, they do. Doctors are highly educated, and most are dedicated to helping those who need it. However, there are times when doctors and other medical professionals make mistakes during surgery, whether intentionally or unintentionally. When they do, the patient or the patient’s family has the right to sue for malpractice.
Making the decision to sue for malpractice is a complicated one, but it must be made promptly because there is a statute of limitations on how long a person has to start the process. The statute of limitations sets the amount of time that a patient has to file a lawsuit against a doctor, hospital, or other medical staff. Each state establishes its own statute of limitations on medical malpractice, and in Pennsylvania, the time limit is two years in most cases.
There are some rules and exceptions that may affect the two-year statute of limitations for malpractice after surgery. The first is when the clock starts ticking. In the case of malpractice, it begins when the patient discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the injury occurred. In other words, when a patient has pain after surgery, they may believe that it is a normal reaction to the surgery, only to find out later that the pain was a symptom of an error made during surgery. The two-year time limit starts when the error is discovered.
Pennsylvania law goes on to say that a medical malpractice suit cannot be filed more than seven years after the malpractice was committed, regardless of whether the patient knew or should have known that a medical mistake occurred.
The next exception to the two-year time limit applies to minors who suffered malpractice during surgery. The Minor’s Tolling Statute allows for additional time if the malpractice victim is under the age of 18. In those cases, the two-year statute of limitations does not begin until the child reaches 18 years of age. That means that in cases related to the injury of a child, a lawsuit can be filed up to the patient’s 20th birthday.
There is also another exception called the Discovery Rule. This rule delays the start of the two-year period if the patient does not know about their injury. If this happens, the patient has two years from the discovery of the injury. One example of a situation where this rule may apply is when a sponge or surgical instrument is left inside a patient during surgery. Complications from such a thing may not arise from such an error may not arise until much later than the two-year limit.
If you think that you or a loved one has suffered medical malpractice after having surgery, it is important to contact a firm that is experienced in both legal and medical cases. At Ross Feller Casey, we have those experienced attorneys and physicians on staff.
Please contact a Ross Feller Casey medical malpractice attorney today for a free evaluation of your case. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is complicated, and your time may be running out.
All malpractice cases are handled on a contingency basis, so you will not be charged unless there is a financial recovery.