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

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Question:

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

Answer:

First, as some background for readers who don’t speak “legalese,”  a statute of limitations is a law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in state court after you have suffered some type of loss or injury.

Wisconsin’s statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit can be found at Wisconsin Statutes section 893.55. This rule specifies that the case must be filed “three years from the date of the injury," or "one year from the date the injury was discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered," whichever is later.

Keep in mind that if you are arguing that you did not discover right away that you were harmed by the defendant’s medical error , as the plaintiff you have the burden of proving that you did not know -- and could not reasonably have been expected to know -- about the wrongdoing until you actually did.

There is a larger catch-all filing deadline for medical malpractice lawsuits in Wisconsin, which says that these kinds of cases can’t be filed if more than five years have passed since the alleged malpractice occurred. However, the fairness of this part of the statute has been called into question by Wisconsin courts, so talk to an attorney if you have questions about how the deadline applies to your case.

There are special rules for cases where a foreign object was accidentally left in a patient (after surgery, for example), and where a health care provider concealed the occurrence of the malpractice. In those situations, the filing deadline is one year from the date the injury is discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered.

What if Wisconsin’s statute of limitations deadline has passed, and you try to file your lawsuit anyway? The health care provider you’re trying to sue will almost certainly ask the court to dismiss the case as time-barred, and the court will grant the request. So it’s important that you pay attention to the filing deadline. Learn more about the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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