Medical Negligence Statute Of Limitations


      When a person suffers a harm at the hands of a third party, that person may have a right to bring a lawsuit and seek compensation through the legal system.  There are many different types of injuries for which a person can bring suit against another party in order to recover damages. 

      Because of that, the possibility of unlimited and open-ended litigation may have a chilling effect on companies and individuals doing business.  In addition, as claims age evidence may be lost, witnesses may move or pass away, and the facts may be blurred, forgotten, or distorted. 

Texas’ Statute of Limitations

      In order to ensure efficient, timely prosecution of claims and to instill certainty to potentially liable parties and their insurers, Texas imposes a Statute of Limitations to bring a lawsuit for an injury. That term refers to laws that limit that amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. 

      Deadlines depend upon the type of injury alleged.  For example, the statute of limitations for a breach of contract claim might be different from the one that applies to a personal injury claim.

Failure to File in Time

      The bottom line is that a failure to file within the designated time period will cause an injured person to forever lose the right to recover from the party who caused the injury, with very few exceptions.  The Statute of Limitations in a medical malpractice claim is two years; however, because of other laws that impose deadlines and specific requirements on those types of claims, it is important that a person injured by the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or health provider seek help right away.

Time From the Date of the Injury

      Generally, a person has 2 years from the date of the injury in order to file a lawsuit.  However, an injury may not be obvious when a potential claim arises. For instance, if a person has surgery, and a piece of sponge or a fragment of an instrument is left behind, there may not be immediate indication of the error.  The patient may not exhibit any symptoms for days, even months, after the error was made.

Discovery Rule

      In order to address this issue, many states have adopted what is known as a “Discovery Rule.” The discovery rule allows injured parties to suspend, or “toll,” the two year time period until they know or should know that the injury was caused by medical negligence. 

      When an injury is severe or obvious, people will get treated.  However, if symptoms are less severe, a person may wait.  However, waiting to treat for too long when a reasonable person would have known an injury from a medical procedure occurred may destroy the right to recovery.  

Hiring Competent Counsel

      For these reasons, medical malpractice claims require the assistance of competent counsel. Medical negligence claims can be extremely complex from both a legal and a medical standpoint.  Knowing the deadlines prescribed by the rules of the courts in addition to managing the necessary steps required prior to filing suit are just as essential to a successful claim as filing suit prior to the two year deadline. 

      These types of cases require many steps in order to be successful.  Getting an attorney involved immediately after an injury has occurred or when medical negligence is suspected of causing an injury will give an injured person the best chance for recovery.