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

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Question:

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

Answer:

Like a number of states, Minnesota has passed a law, known as a “statute of limitations,” which affects a plaintiff’s rights when it comes to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in the state’s court system. Specifically, these laws set a limit (expressed in years) on the amount of time you have to go to court and get the case started -- in Minnesota, that means filing the initial complaint and an affidavit of merit stating that your attorney has reviewed your case with a qualified expert witness who believes that your claims have merit .

Minnesota’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits can be found at Minnesota Statutes section 541.076, and it states that “an action by a patient or former patient against a health care provider alleging malpractice, error, mistake, or failure to cure…must be commenced within four years from the date the cause of action accrued,” meaning the date on which the defendant committed the alleged medical error.

What if Minnesota’s four-year deadline has passed and you try to file the lawsuit anyway? It’s a safe bet that the doctor or health care facility you’re trying to sue will file a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. The court will almost certainly grant the motion (unless an exception applies; we’ll discuss those below) and that will be the end of the lawsuit. So it’s crucial to pay attention to the statute of limitations as it applies to your case.

Now, what about those exceptions to the running of the statute of limitations? In Minnesota, they are set out in Minnesota Statutes section 541.15. The most common exception comes into play when the prospective plaintiff is under 18 years of age. In that case, the statute of limitations does not start to run until the plaintiff reaches the age of 18, except that the suspension of the deadline can’t be extended for more than seven years, or for more than one year after the person has reached 18.   

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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