What is the statute of limitations for filing an Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit?

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Question:

What is the statute of limitations for filing an Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit?

Answer:

First, a quick refresher course for those whose “legalese” is a little rusty: A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a strict limit on the amount of time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit after you have suffered some kind of harm or loss.

Indiana has a specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits, and it can be found at Indiana Code section 34-18-7-1, which gives a potential medical malpractice plaintiff two years to get their medical malpractice lawsuit started.

Usually the statute of limitations “clock” starts running on the date on which the alleged medical error was committed, but there may be an exception made in Indiana cases where the patient was not able to learn that he or she was actually harmed by the defendant’s sub-standard care. In that situation, the deadline won’t be extended unless the patient can prove that the harm wasn’t discovered (and couldn’t have been discovered) right away.

Indiana also has a fairly unique rule that lets a potential medical malpractice plaintiff “toll” the statute of limitations (delay the running of the clock, in other words) for 90 days by filing a “proposed complaint” with the “medical review panel” that reviews most medical malpractice lawsuits in the states. (Note: The “medical review panel” is a court-affiliated group consisting of three health care providers and one attorney. The group reviews all medical malpractice lawsuits where the plaintiff is asking for an amount over $15,000, unless all parties have agreed to bypass the medical review panel requirement. Learn more about how the review panel works by reading Indiana Code section 34-18-10.)

Finally, patients who were under six years of age at the time that the alleged medical malpractice occurred have until their eighth birthday to file a lawsuit. This is true even for newborns who were harmed by birth-related medical malpractice.

Having read all of this, you may be wondering what happens if you try to file your medical malpractice lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has passed. In that situation, 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, the court will grant the request, and that will be the end of your lawsuit. Learn more about the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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