Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations: Delay Can Doom Your Right to Obtain Compensation
If you were the victim of medical negligence, you might not know it immediately. Even if you feel like something went wrong during surgery or the course of your treatment, it can still take time to connect your health problems or complications with an act of medical malpractice. But if you take too long before meeting with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can investigate your situation and file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your losses, you could miss Maine’s medical malpractice statute of limitations. And if you miss that strict deadline, you likely won’t be able to obtain any damages whatsoever.
That is why it is of the utmost importance to contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you suspect that a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider was negligent and caused you injury or other health problems. Meeting with a lawyer doesn’t mean you have a claim or will file a lawsuit. However, if you do have a claim, your attorney will have the time necessary to investigate your case and file a medical malpractice lawsuit well before the medical malpractice statute of limitations expires.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations establishes the period within which you must file a lawsuit for a particular claim. If you file a suit after the applicable statute of limitations has passed, a judge will likely dismiss it.
Different limitation periods apply to different types of claims. For example, if you wanted to sue someone for breaching a written contract in Maine, you would need to file your lawsuit within 20 years after the alleged breach occurred. If you wanted to file a suit alleging fraud, however, you would need to do so within six years of discovering the fraud.
Maine’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
In Maine, most medical malpractice claims must be filed within three years of the negligent act. If the malpractice included a series of negligent acts, that three years begins on the date of the last negligent act if the negligent treatment was with the same provider. This is the general rule and there are exceptions with shorter time limitations.
Unlike many other states, Maine does not have a “discovery” rule that starts the clock ticking on the limitations period on the date a patient first learns or should have learned of the malpractice. For example, many malpractice claims are based on a failure to diagnose or misdiagnose a condition such as cancer. A patient may not become aware of the misdiagnosis until they develop the disease, sometimes years later. In Maine, it is on the date of the misdiagnosis, not the date the patient learned of their illness, that the medical malpractice statute of limitations starts to run. This is yet another reason it is critical to move quickly if you suspect a medical error.
When the medical malpractice victim is a minor, they must begin any claim within six years of the date of the alleged act of malpractice or within three years of reaching the age of majority, whichever occurs first.
Berman & Simmons: Getting You the Maximum Amount of Compensation Available for Your Medical Malpractice Claim
The time limit for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit comes up fast, and your lawyer must conduct a thorough investigation and evaluation of your claim before filing an action. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after you suspect an error occurred.
Please contact Berman & Simmons today at 866-664-2403 to arrange your free consultation to discuss your medical malpractice claim.