One thing that sets medical malpractice apart from other legal issues is understanding if you are a victim. You may have had a simple medical procedure six months ago and now find yourself in a hospital bed. Or you may have had a loved one pass away after/during treatment at a hospital. Dealing with the issues of this new reality can be overwhelming. That is without adding the possibility that there was medical malpractice involved.
Medical malpractice is frustrating because as you deal with the outcome your injury you are losing time to take action. Dividing your time between dealing with your injury and finding out if you have a claim is an awful choice. That can make it very difficult for you to be made whole or find justice.
If the statute of limitations expires before you file a lawsuit, you lose the chance to seek justice. Even if it is clear you were a victim.
As soon as you suspect medical malpractice contributed to the injury you should begin looking into it. There is a time limit, by law, on how long you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. If the statute of limitations expires before you file a lawsuit, you lose the chance to be compensated for your loss and to seek justice. Even if it is clear you were a victim.
The reason we have a statute of limitations is to find a balance of protecting injured parties while allowing medical providers a chance to defend themselves while records and witnesses are still available.
There are a few triggers that start the clock on the statute of limitations running, those are:
- When the malpractice occurred.
- The date an injury was caused by the malpractice.
- When the plaintiff (victim) discovered, or should have discovered, he or she was injured.
The statute of limitation and the statute of repose make timing a critical part of your decision to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
In Illinois, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date that you discover, or should have discovered your injury or your loved one’s injury. However, there is another deadline running as well. This deadline is known as the statute of repose. The statute of repose requires that any medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed no later than four years from the date on which the medical malpractice occurred.
The statute of limitation and the statute of repose make timing a critical part of your decision to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Collecting evidence, ordering records, finding experts, and handling probate issues (in cases where the victim has died) all take time. Trying to file a lawsuit with the deadline looming can be detrimental to your case. If you think that medical malpractice contributed to your injury, it is always in your best interest to give your attorney as much time as you can to begin working on your case.
The statute of limitations can seem overwhelming, but a good attorney will take the time to help you understand it, understand how it affects your case, and help you make a plan to move forward.