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