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

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Question:

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

Answer:

Like a lot of states, Kentucky has a specific “statute of limitations” that anyone interested in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit must follow. This is a law that limits the amount of time you have to go to get your case started in the state’s civil court system, by filing the initial complaint against the doctor or care facility you intend to sue.

You can find Kentucky’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits at Revised Code of Kentucky  section 413.140(1)(e), and it says that this kind of case must be filed within one year “after the cause of action accrued.” So, the next logical question is, when does a medical malpractice cause of action “accrue”? The Kentucky statute of limitations goes on to specifically address that, stating “the cause of action shall be deemed to accrue at the time the injury is first discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered.” In other words, once you know (or should know in the eyes of the law) that you were harmed by a medical error, the “clock” starts running on the one-year period within which you must get your case filed.   

There is also a larger catch-all filing deadline (known as a “statute of repose” in legalese) in Kentucky, which says that any medical malpractice lawsuit “shall be commenced within five years from the date on which the alleged negligent act or omission is said to have occurred.” So, once five years have passed since the alleged malpractice was committed, your right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is lost in Kentucky, even if you didn’t know (and couldn’t have known) that you were harmed by malpractice during that time.

Having read all of this, you’re probably wondering what happens if the statute of limitations filing deadline has passed and you try to file the case anyway. In that situation, you can count on the defendant (the doctor or hospital you’re suing) asking the court to dismiss the case, and the court granting the motion. Once that happens, that’s the end of your lawsuit. That’s why it is crucial to pay attention to and abide by Kentucky’s medical malpractice statute of limitations as it applies to your case. (Get more details on the Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases.)

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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