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

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Question:

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

Answer:

Like a lot of states, Wyoming has enacted a specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits. But first, some background for readers whose “legalese” is a little rusty: A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit after you have suffered some type of harm (such as an injury or a financial loss). Depending on the kind of case you want to file, the deadline could be anywhere from one year to 10 years.

Wyoming’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases can be found at Wyoming Statutes section 1-3-107, and it gets a little complicated, so let’s look at it one piece at a time.

The first part of the statute says that a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date on which the underlying medical error was committed.

Next, the statute goes on to say that, if the malpractice was “not reasonably discoverable” within those first two years, or if the plaintiff failed to discover it “despite the exercise of due diligence,” then the case must be brought within two years of the date when the malpractice is actually discovered.

Finally, Wyoming’s statute of limitations says that if the malpractice is not discovered until sometime during the second year of the two-year period, “the period for commencing a lawsuit shall be extended by six months.”

Keep in mind that if you are relying on the “discovery” portion of the statute, as the plaintiff you have the burden of proving that you did not discover -- and you could not have reasonably discovered -- the malpractice or injury until you actually did.

You may wonder what happens if you try to file your medical malpractice lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed. In that situation, it’s a safe bet that the doctor or health care facility you’re trying to sue will file a legal motion asking the court to dismiss the case, the court will grant the request, and that will be the end of your lawsuit. So, it’s easy to see why it’s important to pay attention to the Wyoming statute of limitations and understand the deadline as it applies to your medical malpractice case.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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