is the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice case in Rhode
Like lawmakers in a lot of states, Rhode Island legislators
have passed a statute of limitations that applies specifically to medical
malpractice lawsuits. First though, a quick refresher for readers whose
“legalese” is a little rusty: a statute of limitations is a law that puts a
firm limit on the amount of time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit
after you have suffered some type of injury or loss. There are different
deadlines depending on the kind of lawsuit you want to file.
Rhode Island’s statute of limitations for medical
malpractice lawsuits can be found at Rhode
Island General Laws section 9-1-14.1,
it gives a potential medical malpractice plaintiff three years to get the case filed in the state’s civil court
system. Usually the statute of
limitations starts running “from the time of the occurrence of the incident which gave
rise to the action,” meaning the
date on which the medical error was committed.
But Rhode Island makes an exception
for cases “which
could not in the exercise of reasonable diligence be discoverable at the time
of the occurrence of the incident which gave rise to the action.” In that situation, the three-year clock starts running at
the time when “the malpractice should, in the exercise of reasonable diligence,
have been discovered.”
Keep in mind that if you did not
discover right away that you were injured as a result of a health care provider’s
malpractice, as the plaintiff you have the burden of proving that you couldn’t
have discovered it even through the “exercise of reasonable diligence.” Only
then will you be able to rely on this “discovery” exception.
Finally, what if you try to
file your Rhode Island medical malpractice lawsuit after the statute of
limitations deadline has passed? You can bet that the doctor or health care
facility you’re trying to sue will ask the court to dismiss the case. If the
court grants the request (which it almost certainly will), that is the end of
your lawsuit. So it’s crucial to pay attention to the deadline. Learn more
about the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case.
by: David Goguen, J.D.