There are many things for a person who has been injured in a medical malpractice action to worry about, including obtaining the proper treatment in order to recover to the fullest extent possible. People strive to get the right medical care, but often delay on finding the necessary legal representation, which causes far more harm than many victims of medical malpractice realize. The fact is that there is a limited time period in which to bring a lawsuit against parties who were negligent or reckless in providing medical treatment or advice, referred to as the statute of limitations. When that time period has expired, there are no other chances to recover compensation for the harm that was done, regardless of how egregious the error. It also is important to realize that it takes time to prepare the case for filing, so it is critical to begin the process long before the clock has struck twelve.
The Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Hawaii
Each state has a statute of limitation that limits the time in which a legal action may be brought against a medical professional who has acted in a negligent or reckless manner. A medical malpractice case can be brought for many reasons against many different parties. An action may be brought against a psychiatrist who failed to warn a patient about the dangerous side-effects of a new prescription medication or against the OB/GYN who did not monitor the health of the mother and baby during the delivery process, leading to a delayed Cesarean section and serious negative consequences for the child. Pursuant to the law in Hawaii, with limited exceptions, a person has two years from the time the person who was injured discovers, or should have discovered with the application of reasonable diligence, the injury. See Hawaii Revised Statutes § 657-7.3. This is different than the date on which the harm occurred, although the clock can start running on the same day.
The discovery rule allows a person to realize that there is harm other than that resulting from the medical condition that necessitated the original care. For example, a person may have undergone surgery to remove his gallbladder, but the doctor nicked an intestine during the surgery, which was not discovered during the procedure. After the person developed a serious septic infection, the damage to the intestine was discovered and the patient learned that the negligence of the surgeon led to the harm. The clock begins to run on that date and not the date of the original surgery.
The Statute of Repose
Although there is a grace period for the time in which the injury could not have been discovered, that time extension will not last more than four years, so a person has an absolute limit of six years in which to commence the medical malpractice litigation. This absolute bar is known as a statute of repose. One of the reasons for an absolute deadline is that evidence deteriorates or is destroyed and witnesses become less certain of the events that resulted in the harm. Regardless of the justifications relied upon by the legislature in imposing these limits, the fact is that it is critical to talk to a skilled medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Exception to the Statute of Limitations in Hawaii
There is a narrow exception to the statute of limitations in cases where the doctor or other medical professional knew about the harm that he caused and took steps to conceal the mistake. This wrongdoing may be simply a matter of failing to disclose the error. Regardless of the form of the fraud or concealment, this behavior tolls, or pauses, the running of the statute of limitations’ clock.
Stern Law, PLLC Fights Tenaciously for Those Harmed By Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can impact anyone who seeks care or advice from a medical professional. It can result from an act or a failure to act. No matter what form the negligence takes, the negative consequences from this error can destroy a person’s life and adversely affect his or her family for many years. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has advocated for the rights and interests of those injured through medical malpractice for more than three decades. We understand how expensive medical malpractice can be, resulting in costly medical care and rehabilitation, lost wages, necessary accommodations, and pain and suffering. Our attorneys work hard to get our clients the money that they need to help recover from the damage done.
In addition to our skilled legal services, we also provide information and answers for anyone who has been harmed, or believes he may have been harmed, as the result of a medical professional’s negligence. We have knowledgeable representatives available to respond to questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of whether or not you are a client. 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.