Multiple visits to different medical professionals each year is normal for millions of people across the country. Shuttling your kids or yourself to a primary care physician, dentist, chiropractor, or eye doctor are things you do without a second thought. However, sometimes a run-of-the-mill doctor’s appointment can go wrong.
According to a study by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, 21% of Americans believe a medical error has, at some point, been made regarding their care. Yet only a small number of those incidents end in medical malpractice lawsuits. This may be because medical malpractice lawsuits are notoriously difficult to pursue because many “mistakes” a doctor might make are protected by law. However, sometimes viable medical malpractice lawsuits don’t happen because patients don’t know their rights and are unaware of the time constraints they have to pursue a lawsuit.
Continue reading to learn more about Alabama’s time limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits.
The Standard Amount of Time for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Alabama has a statute of limitations of two years from the date the alleged malpractice occurred to file a claim. Two years can pass quite quickly. When you have been the victim of malpractice, do not waste time.
Gather your evidence and start your paper trail. This is extremely important. Collect any forms your doctor’s office or hospital required you to fill out. Then, compile all emails, receipts, and other documentation to establish a timeline and the doctor-patient relationship.
If you miss the two-year deadline to file – outside of certain exceptions – the court will dismiss your case.
Alabama’s Discovery Rule & Statute of Repose
We noted that there are certain exceptions allowing more time to file a claim outside of the two-year statute of limitations. One of Alabama’s exceptions is the discovery rule. This allows the extension of the filing deadline.
The discovery rule applies if the malpractice is not discovered and could not reasonably have been discovered two years after it occurred. The state allows victims to file a lawsuit up to six months from the date of discovery.
Although Alabama allows additional time to file a medical malpractice claim through the discovery rule, the state’s statute of repose places limits on the rule.
The statute of repose limits requires all medical malpractice claims are filed within four years of the date of the medical error. This is true even if the injury was not discovered or couldn’t have been discovered within those four years.
When should I contact a medical malpractice attorney?
Contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately after the malpractice. Malpractice can involve mistakes made during surgery, prescription of incorrect medication, misdiagnosis of health conditions as well as neglect.
Likewise, medical negligence is a leading cause of death in America. It leads to years without closure for family members. It may also lead to years of pain, embarrassment, mental anguish, and other debilitating consequences for a patient.
Don’t be a silent victim. Although you may not be able to regain all that was lost, filing a claim may get you awarded a settlement that will help you pick up the pieces.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the carelessness of medical professionals, please contact the experienced attorneys at Timberlake & League. We can help.