When Is It Too Late to Sue for Malpractice?
Medical malpractice claims are complex. One of the most challenging aspects of these cases is the length of time it can take for the adverse effects of malpractice to become apparent.
Generally, medical malpractice claims in New Jersey are subject to the same two-year statute of limitations (i.e., the time limit to take legal action) as other types of personal injury claims. However, the statute of limitations may vary depending on the nature of the injury, the age of the victim, and more.
The attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have extensive experience handling complex medical malpractice claims in Fort Lee and throughout New Jersey. Contact us today for a free consultation.
How Much Time Do I Have to Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Some instances of medical malpractice involve obvious errors and almost immediate harm. For example, a wrong-site surgery is readily apparent when the surgical team or even the patient realizes that a healthy body part has been operated on and the area in need of treatment is untouched. In extreme circumstances, this can lead to unnecessary amputations and other catastrophic outcomes.
However, other effects of medical negligence can be less evident. For example, in cases of surgical error where a sponge or other surgical equipment is left inside the patient, serious infection and other complications may not arise until months or even years after the fact.
If the injury is not apparent and could not have been reasonably discovered within two years, the court may allow your medical malpractice claim to proceed after the statute of limitations elapses. This is known as the “discovery rule.”
Time Limits for Medical Malpractice Claims Involving Children
Another circumstance in which the statute of limitations is extended for medical malpractice claims is when the victim is a minor child. If your child is under the age of 18 when he or she is injured by medical negligence, New Jersey law tolls (i.e., suspends) the statute of limitations until one of the following conditions is met:
- If the malpractice occurs after your child is born and before his or her 18th birthday, you can bring a claim within no later than 2 years of your child turning 18.
- If the malpractice occurs when your child is born, you have until your child’s 13th birthday to bring a claim.
The effects of a birth injury may not be discovered until your child misses developmental milestones or experiences other hardships as he or she gets older. Although parents have more than the “standard” two years to pursue compensation for injuries their child sustains at birth, it is important for families to be aware that age 13 – not 18 – is the statutory limit for filing a medical malpractice claim for birth-related trauma.
Read More: Is It Too Late to Sue?
Why You Should Speak to a Medical Malpractice Attorney as Soon as Possible
Complications and adverse effects of medical negligence may take time to arise. When they do, diagnosis is not always straightforward. Multiple doctor visits and meetings with specialists may be required to get at the root of the problem.
Throughout this time, the clock on your legal claim is ticking. If you suspect you or your loved one suffered injury due to medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer promptly.
Investigating medical malpractice takes time. An experienced attorney will have the knowledge and resources to assess the evidence (such as medical records) and consult with experts to determine how your injury occurred, whether or not you have a viable claim, and the damages you may be entitled to recover.
Perhaps most importantly, meeting with a lawyer sooner rather than later will ensure that your rights are protected and you do not lose the opportunity to recover damages related to an injury or condition that developed over time.
Doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers (as well as their insurers) will aggressively dispute malpractice claims brought after the statute of limitations elapses. Even the courts may find that an injury stemming from medical negligence could and should have been reasonably discovered within two years.
Given these challenges, you need a lawyer who can gather evidence to support your claim that the discovery rule applies in your case. If you were harmed by the negligence of a medical professional, you should not be denied the opportunity to pursue compensation simply because you did not (or even could not) discover the adverse effects of the malpractice within a designated time frame.
Don’t Delay – Get Started on Your Malpractice Claim
Most personal injury claims are subject to strict time limits. If you wait too long to file a claim, you will likely be barred from recovering damages. However, the unique circumstances involved in medical malpractice cases can give victims of healthcare provider negligence more time to seek fair compensation.
It is crucial to use this time wisely. At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, our attorneys promptly and thoroughly investigate claims of medical malpractice. We negotiate with the liable parties and their insurance companies. If a settlement cannot be reached, we explore all options for recovering the compensation you deserve – up to and including filing a lawsuit and going to trial.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 today for a free review of your case. Our medical malpractice attorneys handle claims in Fort Lee and all of New Jersey.