Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
This page discusses the statute of limitations in most Illinois medical malpractice cases. The information on this page does not apply to every case and as a result you shouldn't draw any final conclusions without speaking to a lawyer. For a full review and determination of how the law applies to your specific incident or injury, please contact us. We are attorneys in Illinois who will talk to you for free, offer analysis of your situation and if needed, a referral to an independent law firm that does a great job on these cases.
Statutes of limitation restrict the time period that a person can file a lawsuit and vary from state-to-state as well as by the type of legal action involved. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions is generally 2 years, but no more than 4 years, from the accident date. However, certain exceptions may exist under the law in certain circumstances.
For instance, the foregoing time period may be extended for certain individuals, including those who are minors when the malpractice occurred. In Illinois, if the person was under the age of eighteen when the malpractice occurred, the limitation period is eight years from the date of the alleged malpractice, or until the minor turns 22.
Similarly, if the claimant is mentally incompetent, the period of limitations does not begin to run until the disability is removed. An example of this would be if someone was in a coma or had severe brain damage. It is a very rare exception to the rule that shouldn't be relied on if possible.
Additionally, in certain instances, such as when a medical professional conceals the incident of malpractice, the victims did not know and could not have known of the malpractice until sometime after the incident are given additional time under the law to file a lawsuit.
For example, if the doctor leaves a medical sponge inside a patient the 2-year statute of limitations period doesn't begin to run until the date the patient knows (or should know) that their symptoms were caused by medical malpractice, even if you were having pain, but still no more than four years from when it happened unless the patient was a minor.
Depending on whom you are suing, there may also be other deadlines within the first 2 years requiring that the entity or entities be put on "notice" much earlier than the statute of limitations period. For example, some private hospitals and medical clinics have doctors on staff who are actually Federal government employees. So in those cases you may have to file a Federal Tort Claims Act claim and put them on notice and/or sue within two years of when the malpractice happened. It may not be obvious that they are Federal employees and should be looked in to right away.
Medical malpractice suits that result in death generally have to be filed within 2 years from the date of death.
The exceptions above are fact sensitive and require the analysis of a qualified attorney to determine if they are applicable. Given that a medical and legal analysis must be done prior to filing a lawsuit, one should not wait until the statute of limitations period is nearing its end because the attorney may not have enough time to complete the review prior to its expiration.
Not filing a case because you weren't ready to deal with it emotionally is understandable, but is not grounds for getting around the statute of limitations. Neither is if you thought that another family member was taking care of everything.
Statute of limitations questions can be difficult and confusing. If you have questions about the time limits to file a suit or would like an attorney referral please contact us. All calls are confidential and free.