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How Long Do You Have To File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Monday December 5, 2022

If you have been the victim of healthcare negligence, you have many questions. It would be best if you had a medical malpractice attorney who can answer them and get your case filed before time runs out. The statute of limitations may vary depending on the nature of the case, but in a medical malpractice case in CT, it is two years. 

What Is the Medical Malpractice Claim Filing Deadline?

All personal injury cases have deadlines for filing a claim after the date of injury. These deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, attempt to protect potential defendants from having to litigate actions they may have made years or even decades after the event.

Statute Of Limitations Time Limit and Discovery Rule

The medical malpractice statute of limitations begins to run on the date of your injury. In Connecticut, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years. That is, you have two years from the time your doctor or other medical professionals treated you to recognize that you suffered an injury and file a malpractice claim.

The courts recognize that not all injuries reveal themselves immediately, especially following surgery or medical procedures. The “discovery rule” pauses or “stays” the statute of limitations if the injury is not one that the plaintiff could have reasonably noticed immediately.

A statute of repose is a deadline based on the occurrence of a certain event or the existence of a particular condition that allows the statute of limitations to be prolonged. It operates together with the discovery rule in some kinds of dangerous drug or defective equipment cases.

For instance, in the notorious “Fen-Phen” cases, patients who took the drug combination might not know for many years if they suffered heart damage related to taking the medications. The statute of repose and the discovery rule allowed patients who had used it extra time to file lawsuits.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Legal Time Limits

A wrongful death is any death due to the legal fault of another, including negligence, medical malpractice, or a criminal act. Some states allow family members to file these lawsuits, but in Connecticut, only the executor of a decedent’s (dead person) estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit is two years from the date of the decedent’s death but not more than five years after the date of the act that caused the death. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-555 (2021)). This somewhat confusing statute means that if the act happened four years ago, but your loved one passed away two years ago from the injury, you need to speak with a personal injury attorney.

Things to Consider Before Filing for a Malpractice Lawsuit

If you believe you or a loved one were the victims of medical negligence, and you are concerned the statute of limitations may run out, you need to consider a few things before contacting a medical malpractice law firm.

Did the Medical Providers Show Any Medical Negligence or Medical Error?

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in medicine. Your healthcare provider should not make any promises about treatment. Medical negligence is usually defined as care that falls below the usual standard of care for most medical providers, not merely a negative outcome.

Misdiagnosing a severe illness or injury, prescribing the wrong medication, and gross surgical errors (such as operating on the wrong body part) are all examples of medical negligence or medical error.

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence is any act or omission by a healthcare provider or a staff member. Medical negligence has the same elements as ordinary negligence, but a heightened standard of care is placed on the professional because of their training and the trust placed in them by their patients.

Did the Medical Mistake Cause Any Severe Harm?

To make a case for negligence (which is what medical malpractice is), your attorney must show that you suffered harm because of the carelessness or error. For instance, if you were prescribed the wrong medication, but your pharmacist spotted the mistake, that would not be grounds for a malpractice suit.

The “harm” need not have been physical to be severe. Serious emotional distress or psychological damage can be grounds for a medical malpractice case. (Squeo v. The Norwalk Hospital Association, (SC 19283), 2015 LEXIS 100).

Did You Have a Patient/Doctor Relationship?

People have tried to sue doctors for off-the-cuff advice given at parties and in bars, but you cannot sue a doctor unless you are a patient. 

This has to do with the legal concept of duty. Duty means that the medical professional has a responsibility to you as your doctor, to treat you according to a certain standard of care. Unless you and the doctor have established that standard of care, the doctor has no legal duty that you can enforce.

The only way to have a medical malpractice case is for the doctor to have treated you as a patient or for you to have been under their care.

Hire an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

If you believe that you or a loved one have been injured because of a medical professional’s negligence or error, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review your case. Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge, L.L.C., in New Haven, Connecticut, will let you know your options and discuss the best course of action.

You have only a two-year statute of limitations to work with, so contact us before that time limit expires. The consultation is free. To make an appointment, call us toll-free at 203-865-8430 or simply complete the contact form online.

Get in Touch

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation

At Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge, L.L.C., we handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not get paid unless and until you receive a settlement or a jury award.

Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a skilled Connecticut personal injury lawyer today.

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