If your doctor has provided medical care that resulted in an injury to you, then this medical malpractice may be sufficient grounds for a lawsuit.
In order to win the lawsuit, you must file it within a required period of time described by the statute of limitations. In Washington state, you must normally file a medical malpractice suit within three years from the time the injury occurred, but there can be extenuating circumstances that can extend this deadline.
Our team at the Gilbert Law Firm has helped clients who suffered from all types of medical malpractice injuries.
Let’s take a look at the statute of limitations and how to ensure you begin your case before any time restrictions occur.
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:
- Lack of sanitary practices
- Delayed diagnosis
- Failure to treat
- Surgical errors
- Medical product liability
- Birth injury
- Medication errors
- Unnecessary surgery
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Washington State
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.
The Gilbert Law Firm is here to help
Only an experienced legal team can help you successfully conduct a medical malpractice lawsuit. With the help of the personal injury lawyers at Gilbert Law Firm, you can be confident that your case is in good hands. Contact us today to discuss your case.