There are many things that can go wrong when a person seeks medical attention. In many situations, there was nothing that the doctor or other medical professional could have done to have prevented the injury and it is not characterized as medical malpractice. However, when the harm was the result of a preventable medical mistake, it may be necessary to bring a legal action in order to get the compensation that is crucial to addressing the financial, medical, and emotional needs of the victim and his or her family.
One of the most important things that people dealing with the consequences of medical malpractice must consider as early as possible is that there are time limits in which legal actions must be commenced. If these hard and fast deadlines are missed, a person is precluded from seeking damages for the harm that was done. This means that he may not be able to pay for medical treatment, may not be able to replace the salary and other benefits that were lost as a result of the injury, and may not have any compensation for pain and suffering. This is incredibly serious.
Statute of Limitations in Alaska for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
The time limit in which to commence an action is controlled by the applicable statute of limitations. There is a general time limit for these cases that varies for each state and then there are exceptions and qualifications that apply, depending on the specific laws. In Arizona, this limit is two years from the time in which the wrongdoing occurred (see Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-542). This medical mistake may be an act or a failure to act, known as an omission. Of course, there are exceptions to the general rule, but for many people who are harmed as the result of medical malpractice, there only are two years in which to commence a lawsuit or lose the right to recover damages forever.
Discovery of the Medical Mistake
When a medical mistake happens, there may not be any overt signs that indicate the negative consequences suffered by the person who underwent the medical treatment were the result of a preventable mistake. In fact, it may take months, if not years, before the cause of the injury is apparent. This is known as the discovery of the wrongdoing and statutes of limitations do take this into account in order to ensure that the victims of preventable medical mistakes are able to get compensation for the harm that they suffered if the discovery of the cause takes some time. Pursuant to Arizona law, the cause of action actually accrues when the person knows or reasonably should have known about the injury. Therefore, if there are reasons why the discovery would have been prevented, the person has a longer period of time in which to file a lawsuit. A person who is using the discovery rule in order to prolong the time period in which to bring a lawsuit against a doctor or other medical professional must be able to prove that he was unable to discover the cause of the injury for some period of time.
Other Exceptions to the Arizona Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitations
There are other exceptions that may extend the time in which to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, including whether the victim is a minor child under a certain age, whether there were efforts made by the negligent medical professional or others to conceal the cause of the injury, whether the defendant left the jurisdiction, or whether the person with the cause of action lacked the mental capacity to pursue the litigation. The underlying basis for these exceptions is that it must be fair for all parties involved in an event where someone may have made a serious and preventable mistake. When one side is at a significant disadvantage, then there must be provisions made to level the field, including an extension of time. However, these extensions are rare and should not be relied upon in making the decision to contact an attorney to discuss legal options.
Stern Law, PLLC Helps Medical Malpractice Victims Get the Right Results
Medical malpractice that results in a serious injury alters the life of the victim, but also has long-term consequences for family and loved ones. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has spent more than 30 years fighting to get the compensation that our clients need in order to obtain the proper medical treatment, replace lost wages, and address the pain and suffering that changes the course of a life. We believe that everyone deserves answers, regardless of whether we represent their legal interests, so we have people available to respond to questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.