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is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maine?
Like a lot of states, Maine has legislated a statute of limitations
that applies specifically to medical
malpractice lawsuits. First though, some background: A
statute of limitations is a state law that sets a limit on the amount of time
you have to file a lawsuit after you have suffered some type of loss or injury.
There are usually different deadlines that vary depending on the kind of case
you want to file.
Maine’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases can
be found at Maine
Revised Statutes Title 24 section 2902, and it says that a medical
malpractice lawsuit must be filed within three
years “after the cause of action accrues,” which simply means three years
from the date on which the underlying medical
error was allegedly committed by
the defendant doctor or health care facility.
There is a special rule for Maine medical malpractice
cases that arise from the leaving of a "foreign object" in the body
of a patient. In those cases, the cause of action “accrues” when the plaintiff
discovers or reasonably should have discovered the harm. So, once you know about
(or should have been on notice of) the presence of the foreign object, the
three year clock starts running. Maine’s statute makes clear that for the
purposes of this exception, a “foreign object” is not something that was
intentionally implanted in the body. So the exception would not apply to a
prosthetic device, but it would come into play if a sponge or surgical
instrument was accidentally left inside the patient.
Maine has also enacted a special statute of limitations
timeline for medical malpractice cases filed by (or on behalf of) a patient who
was a minor at the time the malpractice occurred. The relevant part of the
statute says that these cases must be filed “within 6 years after the cause of action
accrues or within 3 years after the minor reaches the age of majority,
whichever first occurs. “
What happens if Maine’s statute of limitations deadline has
passed, but you try to file your medical malpractice lawsuit anyway? It’s a
safe bet that the defendant 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,
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