Statute of Limitations In Medical Malpractice Cases
In a medical malpractice case what is the statute of limitations is typically the first question that any attorney is going to ask in reviewing a case.
Statute of Limitations In Medical Malpractice Cases Must Be Addressed Early
In general in Virginia the statute of limitations is two years. The tricky part of a statute of limitations analysis is when does the statute begin to run? Normally it begins to run on the date of the negligent act. The negligent act is the substandard or subpar conduct by the physician or health care provider which caused injury to the patient. Frequently however the patient remains under the care of that physician for that particular condition for some time after the substandard act or omission occurs. If that is the case then the statute of limitations may not begin to run until the end of that continuous treatment period. The question of whether or not that so-called “continuous treatment rule” applies is a tricky question and you should not assume that just because you remained under the care of that physician that therefore the continuous treatment rule applies. That is something that a legal professional needs to express an opinion on and give you advice on. The better practice in terms of handling medical malpractice cases is to operate on the premise that the statute of limitations begins to run when the patient suffers some injury as a result of the substandard conduct of the health care provider. That statute of limitations then runs for a period of two (2) years in that instance.
Statute of Limitations In Medical Malpractice Cases Can Be Variable
There are other cases where the statute of limitations may not begin to run at the time of the substandard conduct by the doctor. Those particular circumstances apply to instances normally where some surgical equipment is left inside the patient. Those again involve some tricky issues and in order to determine exactly when your statute of limitations may begin to run you need to seek legal advice from an experienced practitioner.
Likewise there is a somewhat different statute of limitations that may apply to minors. The Virginia General Assembly over the last many years has tinkered with that statute of limitations and as such if you’re dealing with a case involving a minor you need to seek prompt legal advice to get an opinion as to when that statute of limitations began to run and when it expires.
The rule of thumb that you should follow is that the statute of limitations is two (2) years from the date that the healthcare provider engaged in the act or omission that caused you injury.