WHEN DO I HAVE A MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM?
If you have been treated for a medical condition and because of that treatment you have suffered adverse effects you may have a medical negligence claim. The common example is that a patient enters a hospital to have surgery done on a part of his/her body and comes out of surgery with conditions that they did not arrive with. For example, a patient enters a hospital to have the right leg removed and due to negligence the left one is removed instead. A medical negligence claims can also stem from a misdiagnosis of an illness, failure to treat a condition according to currently accepted standards in medical treatment and, very often, negligence in administering anesthesia.
WHEN SHOULD I FILE MY CLAIM?
A medical negligence claim usually has a short statute of limitations. In New York, for example, the effected party has a window of two (2) years and six (6) months to file his/her complaint with the appropriate court. The rationale behind this is that insurance companies have a heavy lobbying industry and wish to curtail your ability to file suit. The statute of limitation, for that reason, does not begin to run at the time that you noticed the malpractice but from the time you should have known. For this reason it is very important that, upon the discovery of a possible medical negligence claim, one does not sit on his rights and one consults an attorney and files a medical negligence claim as soon as possible.
WHAT IS COVERED IN THE DEFINITION OF MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE?
Although it would seem to a normal person that any and all actions of negligence taken upon a medical professional would be fit for a medical negligence claim, this is incorrect. States define what constitutes medical negligence differently. For instance, in some States leaving a foreign object, such as a sponge or surgical tool, inside a patient does not carry with it the requisite thirty (30) month statute of limitations. Instead it has only a one (1) year period to which the plaintiff knew or should have known of the malpractice. To a common person it may seem totally illogical that something of this nature would have a shorter statute of limitations as opposed to a longer one considering the difficulty in detection. The honest truth is this is what the law is. When considering a medical negligence claim it is of the plaintiff's best interest to discover the intricacies of the statute of limitations as soon as possible and plan his/her suit accordingly.
One last wrinkle in the statute of limitations is that for ongoing medical treatment. The definition of most States' statute of limitations refers to the date of last treatment as the starting point. If an individual is seeking medical treatment that is ongoing and it results in malpractice the date that the statute of limitations begins to run is the end of the treatment. A good example is when a patient is treated for cancer. Even if the malpractice occurred in year two (2) of the treatment and he/she continued treatment until year four (4) his/her statute of limitations would not begin to run until year four (4).