One of the most common questions and a frequent source of misunderstanding when it comes to the law is the statute of limitations, especially when it concerns filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. How long does a victim have to file a legal claim due to injuries caused by the negligence or carelessness of a doctor, nurse, medical facility, or other healthcare provider?
Here’s what you need to know about the timeline involved in seeking compensation for your injuries in a court of law.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law setting a specific period of time; after that time has passed, a lawsuit is not allowed to proceed. This type of time-based restriction exists for many types of cases, both criminal and civil. Every state has statute of limitations laws, though the time limits allowed may vary from state to state, and may vary based on the specific charges and other circumstances about the case.
In Texas, the law is very clear about the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case. Victims have two years from the date or the injury to file suit. However, there are a few specific circumstances under which this deadline may be flexible.
Special Circumstances for the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is generally firm. In some cases, the end of the medical treatment or hospitalization during which the injury occurred is when the two-year time limit begins. However, this may only be allowed if the exact date of the injury cannot be determined, so relying on it can be challenging in court.
The other time that this deadline is flexible is in cases when it can be demonstrated that the act of negligence was concealed in a fraudulent manner. In this case, it may be up to the judge to allow an extension of time.
One other exception to the rule is if the injured party was a child. Texas law technically states that minors under the age of twelve have until their fourteenth birthday to file a suit. However, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled in the past that this is unconstitutional and that the two-year timer on the statute of limitations begins at eighteen, giving the victim until age twenty to file suit.
There is one other legal time limit that must be dealt with, called a “statute of repose.” This portion of Texas law places a firm ten-year time limit on all medical malpractice cases, no matter what the facts are.
Generally, no matter what the age of the victim, the earlier a suit is filed, the better for the victim’s case. Evidence can degrade over time, memories fade, people move jobs or locations, and it becomes more and more difficult to prove an injury occurred. It’s best to move quickly to best protect the legal rights of the victim, especially if the victim is a minor.
Get Legal Help Today
Though it may seem like an inconvenience, statutes of limitation are designed to protect people against suits in which the evidence has degraded beyond the point of being admissible. That’s why it’s vital that victims seek legal help as soon as possible.
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence or wrongdoing of a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We’ve spent decades fighting for the rights of patients who have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, and we’d like to help you seek the compensation you’re owed in a court of law. You may be able to recoup the costs of medical bills, repeated hospitalization, rehabilitation and therapy, pain and suffering, and more.
To speak to a legal professional about your medical malpractice case, contact Wayne Wright LLP by phone, send an email using our contact form, or click the live chat box on this page to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation today.