Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional makes a preventable error that leads to serious harm. There are many different ways that this can happen, but when the injury is severe, the devastating impact on the victim and his or her family is almost uniformly devastating. Many times, the person who is injured requires intensive medical care and long-term treatment and no longer can work. This leads to mounting bills and stressful times. At the same time, the medical professionals involved in the malpractice may be attempting to persuade the individual that the injury was unavoidable and there was nothing that could have changed the outcome. This leads individuals to delay bringing any sort of claim for a long period of time. In many of these situations, by the time the person does decide to pursue litigation, his case cannot be brought because the applicable statute of limitations has run. This is a terrible result and it is critical to consult with a skilled medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to avoid it.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the law that provides absolute limits to the time in which a legal action can be commenced. This applies to civil cases, which is what a medical malpractice action is. The time limit in which to bring a medical malpractice case varies from state-to-state, and even within the state based on specific factors and extenuating circumstances. In Arkansas, the general medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years. See Arkansas Code § 16-114-203. A person who has been harmed as the result of negligence on the part of a medical professional must file a complaint within two years of the time in which the act or omission that led to the harm occurred. In addition, once the complaint has been filed, it is necessary to submit an affidavit of merit within 30 days affirming that there is a good faith basis for the filing of the lawsuit. A plaintiff must have a medical expert willing to complete the affidavit, so there is a lot that must be done before the case is filed. This is why it is critical to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after learning about the cause of the injury.
Discovery of the Medical Mistake
There are many different factors that can prevent a person from discovering the cause of the harm that he suffered. The law in Arkansas is more restrictive than many other states in starting the clock on the statute of limitations from the date that the cause of action accrued, which means that actual date that the wrongful act or omission happened. This means that there is not a broad discovery exception that acts to extend the filing time period in many other states. However, when the medical malpractice involves an object that is negligently left inside the body of a patient, which often is not discovered for months and even years, there is an extension of the time period. This time begins to run when the foreign object is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered and provides that the person has one year to commence an action from the time of discovery.
Other Important Statute of Limitations Considerations
As with other states, Arkansas has special provisions that apply to minors who are injured as the result of medical malpractice. When a child who is under the age of nine years is harmed, the minor (through his parent or guardian) has until he turns 11 years of age or two years from the date of the act or omission, whichever is longer, to bring a legal action. However, if the injury is not discovered and could not have been discovered by a reasonable person under the same circumstances before the minor turned 11 years old, then the minor has two years from the time of discovery to bring the legal action. This ability to extend the time limit for minors is capped by the date that the child turns 19 years of age.
Stern Law, PLLC Advocates on Behalf of Medical Malpractice Victims
Medical malpractice impacts millions of people every year. Despite what many people think, many people do not pursue any legal action or delay taking action to the point where they no longer can maintain a case because the statute of limitations has run. It is critical to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to learn about available legal options. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has more than 30 years of experience in fighting for the rights and interests of our clients. We work hard to provide answers for everyone who has suffered, or may have suffered, from medical malpractice. 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.