Understanding the Statute of Limitations in PA Medical Malpractice Cases

Old legal books

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a medical provider’s failure to competently perform his or her medical duties. In the great state of Pennsylvania, cases of medical malpractice run rampant. Last year alone, there were 1,512 medical malpractice cases filed. And today, it’s no secret that medical malpractice lawsuits remain a major problem in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

If you, or someone you know, has been harmed by an act of medical malpractice, it is important to be aware of the statute of limitations. Basically, all states establish their own statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. The statute of limitations sets the length of time an injured patient has to file a lawsuit against a medical provider. Under Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice law, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years.

How the Discovery Rule affects the statute of limitations:

However, the two-year countdown does not begin until the point at which the patient first discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the injury. This standard is termed the Discovery Rule. This rule may extend the amount of time in which an injured patient has to file a claim in cases of medical malpractice. If a person is unable, despite reasonable diligence, to learn that they are injured or that their injury may have been caused by the negligence of a health care provider, the Discovery Rule may apply. The Discovery Rule may allow for the recovery of damages, even in situations where the two-year statute of limitations has expired.

For cases arising after March 2002, there is an additional statute that should be considered. This piece of legislation is called the MCARE Act of Pennsylvania. The MCARE Act includes the Statute of Repose, which places a time limit on how long a victim has to file a claim in court, even if the discovery rule would otherwise apply and extend the time permitted to file a lawsuit. In other words, this statute states that injured patients are allowed to file the suit up to seven years from the date the medically negligent act occurred. If the injury is discovered more than seven years after the medically negligent act occurred, the injured patient will not be able to file a lawsuit against the medical provider.

Pennsylvania also has a tolling statute for minors, aptly named the Minors Tolling Statute. Essentially, if a child is injured by medical malpractice before the age of 18, the two-year statute of limitations does not begin until the child reaches the age of 18. Typically then, a claim for damages related to an injury to a child can be filed any time before the individual reaches 20 years of age.

Failure To Act Can Bring Sad Consequences

Due to strict time restrictions placed upon patients, it is essential for patients who were injured to seek a lawyer’s help as soon as possible. Additionally, by being proactive and seeking the advice of medical malpractice lawyers, Pennsylvania malpractice law will not seem as daunting to patients who were injured. Fortunately, the attorneys at Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., are here to help. The firm’s number one goal from day one, has been to remain focused on the needs of each client.

It takes a specific mindset, specialized skills and substantial resources. The types of cases we handle are not the average personal injury. They involve severe, permanent injuries to people that radically affect their lives forever, or in some instances, even cause their death.