It sounds unfair, and arguably, it is. But, there are strict time limits on when you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit , and unless you are a lawyer who specializes in the area, or you are someone who is unfortunate enough to have already been through a medical malpractice lawsuit, you would have no idea of what the time limit is, or that it even exists . And frankly, you are unlikely to guess at what the limits are, because they appear to have been created arbitrarily.
The really bad news is that if you decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the time limit has run out, you are out of luck. You can never pursue your claim, absent rare exceptions. That is why the time limits are called “ statutes of limitation .”
The lesson from all this is: do not keep your suspicions about malpractice to yourself. The moment you suspect that you, or someone else you care about, has been the victim of medical negligence, find a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your concerns with. Any good and experienced medical malpractice attorney will listen without judgment, and he or she will advise you about whether your claim can be an actual court case.
Take note, probably the most important thing you will learn by speaking to a medical malpractice attorney is the type of time limitation you are up against, and some of them are extremely short. For example, if the medical malpractice occurs in a municipal healthcare facility in New York State, you must file a Notice of Claim with the municipality within 90 days of the malpractice. In New York City, the municipal hospitals are those run by the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, which is where the Notice of Claim must be directed. If you want to pursue your claim once it becomes clear that the municipality is not interested in settling your claim, you need to file a lawsuit within one year and 90 days from the malpractice.
If there is no municipality involved, and the facility is not run by the U.S., you have 2.5 years from the malpractice to bring suit. The same limit applies to individual healthcare providers.
Medical consumers should also be aware that most medical malpractice lawyers will not take on a new client who contacts them days, or even weeks before the time limit runs out. It does not leave us with enough time to properly evaluate your case. Hospitals and doctors are notoriously slow in responding to requests for medical records, and they are often voluminous and difficult to decipher.
So, whoever said “ Speak now, or forever hold your peace ,” was very wise. If you don't pipe up early, you will have to remain quiet forever, legally speaking, about your injury that resulted from medical malpractice.