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

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Question:

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

Answer:

First, readers who aren’t fluent in “legalese” could probably use some background information.  A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a limit -- expressed in years -- on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after you have suffered some type of loss or injury. There are different deadlines depending on the kind of lawsuit you want to file.

Like a lot of states, Louisiana has a dedicated statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit, and it specifies that the injured patient must file their claim within one year of the health care provider’s alleged action (or failure to act) that forms of the basis of the case. Or, if the malpractice is not known of right away, the case must be filed within one year of the date on which it is actually (or could reasonably be) discovered by the plaintiff.  Keep in mind that if you are relying on this “discovery rule,” as the plaintiff you have the burden of proving that you did not discover, and you could not have reasonably discovered, the occurrence of the malpractice until the time when you finally took action.

You can read the full text of Louisiana’s medical malpractice statute of limitations online at Louisiana Revised Statutes section 9:5628.

The Louisiana law goes on to mandate that every medical malpractice lawsuit “be filed at the latest within a period of three years from the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect.” This is known as a “statute of repose,” and it means that no lawsuit can be filed if more than three years have passed since the malpractice occurred, no matter how serious the medical error might have been, and regardless of whether the patient had a reasonable opportunity to discover that he or she was harmed by it.   

Having read all of this, you may be wondering what happens if Louisiana’s statute of limitations deadline has passed, but you try to file your medical malpractice lawsuit anyway. In that scenario, it’s a safe bet that the doctor or health care facility you’re trying to sue will ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court will grant the request. If that happens, that will be the end of your lawsuit. That’s why it’s so important to understand the statute of limitations   Learn more about the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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