What is the Kansas statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit?

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Question:

What is the Kansas statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Answer:

First things first, for those who haven’t brushed up on their legalese in a while: A “statute of limitations” is a state law that places a time limit (which is expressed in years) on your right to go to court and get a lawsuit started. Most states have deadlines that differ depending on the kind of case you want to file.

If the deadline set by the statute of limitations has passed, but you try to file your medical malpractice lawsuit anyway, the doctor or health care entity you’re trying to sue will ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court will almost certainly grant the motion.

Like a lot of states, Kansas has a specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases filed in the state’s court system, and it can be found at Kansas Statutes section 60-513, which gives a prospective two years to file their lawsuit against a doctor or other health care provider.

The “clock” usually starts running on the date you were harmed by the malpractice, but the law in Kansas contains specific language about when an injury is “discovered” for purposes of the statute of limitations:

"A cause of action…shall be deemed to have accrued at the time of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action, unless the fact of injury is not reasonably ascertainable until some time after the initial act, then the period of limitation shall not commence until the fact of injury becomes reasonably ascertainable …, but in no event shall such an action be commenced more than four years beyond the time of the act giving rise to the cause of action."

In other words, you need to file the lawsuit within two years of the date on which you were actually harmed by -- or could reasonably be expected to know that you were harmed by -- the defendant’s medical error. But the larger deadline says that you can’t wait more than four years after the commission of the malpractice.  So, once those four years have passed, your right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is lost in Kansas, even if you didn’t (and couldn’t have) known you were harmed by the defendant’s wrongdoing during that time.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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