How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Virginia?
Medical malpractice is a tort, or wrongdoing, by a medical practitioner that injures a patient. It is a violation of the medical standards of care, such as an error in diagnosis or treatment, that causes an injury or illness to a patient. A physician or hospital in Virginia may have to pay a patient for medical malpractice. If this tort injured you in Virginia, you must bring a civil claim within a certain amount of time under the statute of limitations. How long you have to file depends on your case.
Virginia’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Virginia’s medical malpractice statute of limitations is found in Code of Virginia Section 8.01-243, which puts a time limit on all claims against health care providers for alleged malpractice or professional negligence. This law gives claimants two years from the date the medical error occurred to file. It states that every action for personal injuries must be brought within two years of the accrual of the cause of action.
Unlike most other personal injury claims, medical malpractice suits in Virginia have special exceptions to the statute of limitations. If you are still receiving treatment for the injury, the courts will toll (extend) your deadline until the completion of the treatment. State law also extends the two-year deadline in three special circumstances.
- If a surgeon left a foreign object in a patient’s body cavity, the patient will have one year from the date he or she discovered or reasonably should have discovered the object to file a claim.
- If the patient did not discover the medical malpractice within the two-year time limit due to fraud, concealment or misrepresentation of fact, the patient will have one year from the date of injury discovery to file.
- If the patient’s grounds for filing stemmed from a negligent failure to diagnose a malignant tumor or cancer, the patient will have one year from the date of diagnosis to file. Special exceptions to this rule exist based on the date of diagnosis.
In general, you will have two years from the date you recognized medical malpractice or discovered your injury to bring a medical malpractice claim in the State of Virginia. It is important, however, to discuss whether one of the state’s exceptions applies to your case. The best way to protect your rights is to speak to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible if you suspect this type of wrongdoing.
Statute of Repose
Virginia also has a statute of repose on medical malpractice claims. This is a law that gives an overall deadline to file, regardless of whether an exception or the discovery rule applies to the case. In Virginia, the statute of repose on all medical malpractice claims is 10 years from the date of the medical error. If you fail to bring your claim within 10 years of the date of the alleged malpractice, the courts will most likely dismiss your case. The only exceptions are if the plaintiff was under the age of 18 at the time of the malpractice or if the plaintiff had a legal disability that extended beyond the 10-year timeframe.
Speak to a Medical Malpractice Attorney Right Away
The civil courts in Virginia take statutes of limitations very seriously. It is critical to file the necessary paperwork by your deadline if you wish to have a valid medical malpractice case. Otherwise, the courts will refuse to hear your case due to the expired statute of limitations. You may have more or less than two years to file depending on the circumstances. Protect your right to file by contacting a medical malpractice lawyer in Richmond as soon as possible after discovering medical malpractice. Prompt legal action can preserve your right to bring a claim.