When someone is injured by the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional, it often doesn't occur that the injury was caused by malpractice until much later. The law establishes time limits for filing a medical malpractice claim, called the statute of limitations. For this reason, it's important for anyone who believes they may be the victim of medical malpractice, to talk to a medical malpractice attorney early because the clock has started ticking.
We practice medical malpractice law in three different jurisdictions; Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Each of these jurisdictions has different rules with regard to medical malpractice claims. This article will outline the various statutes of limitations in each of these jurisdictions, as well as some exceptions to the rules.
In many states, there are two distinct time limits for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The difference is when the clock begins ticking. There will either be a time limit from the date of the injury, from the date of discovery of the injury, or both. Having a provision in place based on date of discovery can help victims of medical malpractice by giving them more time in cases where the injury may take some time to show itself, but not every state provides this additional window of opportunity.
In Virginia, the standard time limit for filing a medical malpractice suit is two years from the date of the injury. Virginia is one of the states with no provision for the date of discovery of an injury, with two exceptions:
In Maryland, victims of medical malpractice have more time to file a lawsuit than many other states. A person injured by malpractice of medical professional has five years from the date of the injury, or three years from the date of discovery during which a lawsuit can be brought. Due to the nature of medical malpractice injuries, it's helpful to have a time limit that accounts for potential lag in discovering an injury.
Similar to Virginia, Washington D.C. provides only a statue of limitations from the date of the injury. In DC, a medical malpractice victim has three years from the date of the injury to bring a claim. So again, similar to Virginia, medical malpractice victims are better off if their injury is one that can be noticed quickly.
Regardless of the state of jurisdiction, anyone who has been caused unnecessary injury by a medical professional should focus on two things: 1. Take care of the injury as best as possible and 2. Talk to an attorney early on to make sure the statute of limitations does not cause a fair case to be thrown out.