Is It Ever Too Late to Sue for Medical Malpractice?

We all trust our physicians and other healthcare professionals to be diligent and meticulous in how they care for us. Their failure to do so can wreak medical havoc and can even be deadly. If you have been harmed by a healthcare professional’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, but this right is not open-ended. To win you will have to convince a jury that several elements of negligence exist, and you will have to file your claim within the time confines imposed by the statute of limitations.

A statute of limitations is the legal limit on how much time is allowed to pass between an event and a claim being filed. In the case of medical malpractice in the state of Pennsylvania, that time limit is generally two years from when the injuring event was first discovered or should have been discovered — but there are exceptions to that rule.

Pennsylvania law establishes that an injured party has two years from the date that they realize (or should realize) that they have been a victim to file a complaint. There is no requirement for the victim to have full knowledge of exactly what went wrong: they just need to understand that something went wrong. This means that even if the negligence occurred five years ago, if you just discovered that something went wrong – for example, that an operation was performed incorrectly and you need to have the subpar work repaired – then the two-year period begins on the date of your discovery.

The exception to this rule is that you are only allowed seven years to discover that something went wrong. If, in the above example, ten years went by before you discovered the problem with your surgery, you are out of luck. The only time that this is not true is when it is discovered that a healthcare professional left a foreign object in your body.

There is a notable exception to all these statute of limitation rules, and that is when medical malpractice involves a child. A child who has been affected by a medical mistake is not expected to ‘discover’ the malpractice until they turn 18. Therefore, their statute of limitations clock begins on their 18th birthday and ends when they turn 20.

If you believe that you have been harmed by a medical mistake and would like to investigate your rights to file a medical malpractice claim, contact us today. We’ll be happy to walk through all of the steps and requirements needed to file an effective claim.