What is the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Hampshire?

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Question:

What is the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Hampshire?

Answer:

First, some background for readers who may not be fluent in the language of “legalese”: A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Depending on the type of case you want to file, the deadline could be anywhere from one year to 10 years.

Like a lot of states, New Hampshire has a specific statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice lawsuits. But that law, which is codified at New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 507:C-4, has been ruled unconstitutional by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

So, New Hampshire’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases now applies to medical malpractice lawsuits. That law, which you can find at New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 508:4, says that any personal injury action must be brought “within three years of the act or omission complained of” – in a malpractice case, that means the commission of the medical error -- “except that when the injury and its causal relationship to the act or omission were not discovered and could not reasonably have been discovered” right away,  the three-year time period does not start until the plaintiff discovers, “or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered” the occurrence of the defendant’s malpractice.   

Keep in mind that if you are relying on the “discovery” portion of the statute, as the plaintiff you have the burden of proving that you did not discover -- and you could not reasonably have been expected to discover -- the occurrence of the underlying malpractice until you actually did.

So, what happens if you try to file your medical malpractice lawsuit after New Hampshire’s statute of limitations deadline has already passed? It’s a safe bet that the doctor or health care facility you’re trying to sue will file a legal motion asking the court to dismiss the case, the court will grant the request, and that will be the end of your lawsuit. So, it’s easy to see why it’s important to pay attention to the New Hampshire statute of limitations and understand the deadline as it applies to your situation. Learn more about the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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