Under the law, a person injured due to someone else’s negligent behavior has a specified amount of time to file an insurance claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for damages. In nearly every case, this is a hard deadline. In other words, if you do not file your insurance claim timely, the insurance company could deny it altogether. If you don’t file your lawsuit within the specified time limit, the court will likely dismiss your case, and you’ll lose your opportunity to pursue compensation through the court system.
If you’ve been severely injured by a medical malpractice error and feel you don’t have the time or energy to consult with a law firm until you feel better, you may wait too long to recover damages. Once this deadline passes, you have no further legal options.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice falls under personal injury, or “tort” law. According to a report from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 250,000 deaths every year from medical errors. Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional injures a patient through neglect or by making an error in treatment or diagnosis.
Rules regarding medical malpractice vary from state to state. It is crucial you engage a personal injury lawyer from the state where you were injured. In other words, you may have traveled across state lines for treatment or surgery. If the treatment resulted in a medical error, you want a personal injury attorney from that state. There are several types of injury that fall under medical malpractice. These include:
Improper treatment: A medical malpractice lawsuit may result from treatment that is incompetently administered. It may also result from the wrong treatment prescribed for your diagnosis.
Failure to diagnose: Your risk of permanent damage increases if a healthcare professional does not properly diagnose your illness or disease. For example, if a person with diabetes is improperly diagnosed, it can lead to diabetic complications, such as loss of sight or loss of limb. This may qualify as medical malpractice.
These lawsuits are often extremely expensive to litigate. Medical experts and countless hours of deposition are needed to support a personal injury medical malpractice lawsuit. There must be significant damage that resulted from the injury. Additionally, that damage must lead to a loss of income, disability, unusual pain, or significant medical bills.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
Virginia has a statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits. It is the same rule that applies to most types of personal injury lawsuits found in the Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243. The rule specifies that the statute of limitations is two years from the date on which the malpractice was committed.
However, the law does extend the two-year statute of limitations in specific instances. These include cases when:
- A foreign body was left in a person after surgery. The statute of limitations may be extended for one year from the date the object is discovered.
- If fraud or intentional misrepresentation prevents you from discovering the injury within the two-year period, the time can be extended for one year from the date on which the injury is discovered.
- When the claim is for negligent failure to diagnose specific health conditions, the date may be extended for one year from the time of an accurate diagnosis.
However, there is a final date beyond which the statute of limitations may not be extended. This is known as the statute of repose, and it states that no lawsuit can be filed ten years after the malpractice occurred. The only exception is when a patient is under the age of 18 or legally incapacitated at the time of the malpractice.
It is imperative that you pay attention to the filing deadlines for insurance claims or medical malpractice lawsuits. Once the time has passed, the court will almost certainly dismiss a lawsuit.
Call The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., Today
If you or a loved one has been injured by a medical error made by a healthcare provider, you may be entitled to compensation. Investigating these claims is time-consuming and requires resources that the Virginia medical malpractice lawyers at The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., can provide.
Contact our compassionate legal team before your deadline runs out so we can properly investigate your claim. Call our offices at 757-260-3675 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-risk consultation.