What 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, J.D.