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

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Question:

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

Answer:

Like a lot of states, Idaho has passed a specific statute of limitations that affects the timeline of medical malpractice cases filed in the state’s court system.

But first, in case your legalese is a little rusty, a “statute of limitations” sets a time limit on a prospective plaintiff’s right to file a lawsuit in court after suffering some kind of harm. If you try to file your lawsuit after the deadline has passed, the defendant (that’s the person or entity you’re trying to sue) will almost certainly file a motion to dismiss the case, the court will grant the request, and that will be the end of your lawsuit. So it’s crucial to pay attention to the statute of limitations as it applies to your medical malpractice case.

Now, onto the specifics of the Idaho law. The standard statute of limitations as it applies to a medical malpractice lawsuit can be found at Idaho Statutes section 5-219, and it gives you two years to get your lawsuit filed. In most cases, the cause of action “accrues” in Idaho (meaning that the clock starts running for purposes of the deadline) “as of the time of the occurrence, act or omission complained of” – the date on which the alleged medical error was committed, in other words.

But Idaho also recognizes a number of exceptions to the two year deadline. Two of the most common situations are those 1) involving “the placement and inadvertent, accidental or unintentional leaving of any foreign object” -- such as a surgical sponge or instrument -- in the body of the patient, and 2) where the patient’s injury has “been fraudulently and knowingly concealed” by the defendant “for the purpose of escaping responsibility.”

In those two scenarios, the statute of limitations “clock” doesn’t start running until “the injured party knows or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been put on inquiry” that he or she was injured as a result of malpractice. Once that discovery is made (or once it should have been made in the eyes of the law), it signals the start of the two-year time period during which the lawsuit must be filed. (Get more details on the Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases.)

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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