Note: image is a model and does not represent people involved in the following story.
Doctors may have the best of intentions, but sometimes a doctor will make a mistake or be careless, and harm results.
In many states, there are strict time limits for filing a lawsuit against a doctor. That means a patient must file a claim within a short time after the doctor’s actions, or lose any right to be compensated for the injury.
But here’s a problem: Sometimes, when a doctor does something wrong, the patient wants the same doctor to continue treating him or her, in hopes of making everything better. The thought is that the doctor knows the patient and the problem better than anyone else, and has more of an incentive than anyone else to fix the situation.
This puts the patient in a bind – no one wants to be treated by a doctor at the same time that they’re suing the doctor, in order to beat the time limit and ensure a right to compensation if the problem can’t be fixed.
So some courts have made an exception to the time limits in cases like these.
For instance, a boy named William Parr was born with a lump in his leg that was diagnosed as a tumor when he was eight years old. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital performed a procedure to remove it. But a complication occurred during the procedure that resulted in a burn, which caused significant pain, refused to heal and became infected. The medical team tried for some time to fix the problem, but eventually the boy’s leg had to be amputated.
The Massachusetts time limit is three years. In this case, the family sued within three years of the amputation, but more than three years after the original procedure that caused the problem.
That was okay, the Massachusetts Appeals Court decided. The three-year period didn’t start to run as long as the same medical team continued to provide treatment.
That’s good news for the family, but you should be aware that time limits for medical negligence cases are often very tricky. If you even suspect that you may be the victim of a medical mistake, it’s best to consult a lawyer right away, because waiting even a little too long can result in completely forfeiting your right to be compensated.
If you’ve experienced possible medical negligence, call us at 864.233.7200 or 1.800.903.8101 for a free telephone consultation.