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Medical Malpractice

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Washington State?

By April 15, 2024April 29th, 2024No Comments

When you go to a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you should be able to trust them to take care of you.

Unfortunately, many Americans become victims of medical malpractice each year when their healthcare providers fail to meet professional standards. Sometimes, their mistakes can even be life-changing.

At the Gilbert Law Firm in Spokane, Washington, our dedicated medical malpractice attorneys help our clients seek justice and compensation after these terrible tragedies. In this blog, our team of experienced attorneys explains medical malpractice in Washington and the statute of limitations for these lawsuits.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a kind of personal injury that a healthcare professional (or, in some cases, health provider or manufacturer) causes out of negligence.

In order for medical malpractice to have occurred, the following circumstances must be present:

  • Standard of care—the treating physician or healthcare provider must be obligated to provide a standard of care that ensures the safety of the patient.
  • Failure to perform—the healthcare professional failed in their duty to provide this standard of care.
  • Resulting injury—the failure to provide safe treatment resulted in injury to the patient.

The negligence that caused injury to the patient may take a variety of different forms:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Lack of sanitary practices
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failure to treat
  • Surgical errors
  • Medical product liability
  • Birth injury
  • Medication errors
  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Lack of informed consent

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Washington

Unfortunately, there is a time limit for filing these types of medical malpractice cases in Washington. Under Washington state law, you typically only have three years following an injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Of course, that requires that you know that an injury has happened.

If you learn that you have been harmed after this 3-year period, you still have some legal options. For example, you may still file a medical malpractice lawsuit within a 1-year period after learning about a medical injury.

If you file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the initial 3-year statute of limitations has elapsed, you will be required to prove that you had no knowledge of the medical error during this time.

You must also show to the court that you could not have reasonably been expected to discover that such a medical error had occurred during the original statute of limitations.

Washington also has a broader statute called a “statute of repose.” The statute of repose stipulates that all medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within 8 years of the negligent act. This covers even instances where the patient had no knowledge of the medical malpractice.

There are, however, legal remedies that may extend this 8-year period. If the injury is the result of leaving a foreign object in the patient’s body or if the healthcare professional intentionally conceals the error by fraud, the statute of repose may be frozen.

In these circumstances, you have one year after learning of the medical malpractice to file a lawsuit.

It is very important to file a medical malpractice lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Otherwise, the defendant will move to dismiss the case, which the court will almost certainly grant.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Spokane, Washington

Medical malpractice is a serious offense that can do permanent damage to someone’s life, whether that is a life-changing injury or even a wrongful death. If you believe you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice in Washington, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

The Gilbert Law Firm team has decades of experience seeking the best possible outcome for our clients. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.


Disclaimer: The blog published by the Gilbert Law Firm marketing team for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. Readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.

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