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What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Case?

Patient's spouse talking to doctor.

If you believe you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, you may be wondering about the laws and legal requirements that could impact your ability to pursue justice and the compensation you deserve. One of the most important laws in this context is the statute of limitations, which imposes strict deadlines on your legal options.

At The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates, we understand how painful and overwhelming medical malpractice injuries can be. Let us answer your most pressing questions in a free initial consultation. Contact us today to discuss your case with a compassionate attorney.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in D.C.?

A statute of limitations is a special law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in civil court. This time limit can vary significantly from state to state and among different types of legal claims.

In Washington, D.C., the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is three years from the date when the alleged medical malpractice injury occurred.

If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the relevant statute of limitations deadline has expired, the court will likely dismiss your case. If this happens, you will effectively lose your right to claim compensation, no matter how strong your underlying case may be.

Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. has a unique understanding of the legal and medical principles that apply to medical malpractice cases. He can help you evaluate your timeline for taking legal action and ensure avoidable administrative errors like missed deadlines don’t derail your case.

Can the Deadline Be Extended in Some Circumstances?

Although the statute of limitations deadlines are largely inflexible, certain exceptions may apply that can extend those deadlines. The discovery rule can extend deadlines in medical malpractice cases in Washington, D.C. The discovery rule allows for the fact that an injured victim may reasonably discover an injury until well after the negligent act occurred.

In these instances, the three-year statute of limitations clock may start running on the date the injured victim learned, or reasonably should have learned, that they were injured and that their healthcare provider’s wrongdoing caused their injury.

In addition, in Washington, D.C., children who were under 18 when the alleged malpractice occurred have until their 21st birthday to file medical malpractice lawsuits.

Washington, D.C. has several other exceptions to the standard statute of limitations deadlines, including:

  • Cases involving fraudulent behavior on behalf of medical providers who attempt to conceal their malpractice
  • Cases involving medical providers who relocate to another state or territory after committing malpractice
  • Cases involving patients who were insane or incarcerated when the malpractice occurred

Why You Should Talk to a Lawyer As Soon As Possible

If you know you have a few years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be tempted to wait and mull over your options before you take action. However, it’s always in your best interest to speak to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible because:

  • The statute of limitations runs out more quickly than you’d think. Three years may seem like plenty of time, but when you factor in the time it will take to investigate, prepare, and negotiate your case, the deadline may approach alarmingly quickly.
  • Physical and non-physical evidence deteriorates over time. Physical evidence such as blood samples and non-physical evidence such as eyewitness memories do not remain viable forever.
  • Hiring a lawyer early on has its advantages. When you have a trusted attorney on your side from the beginning, they can help you through every stage of the legal process and use their long-term knowledge of your case to adapt more seamlessly as new challenges arise.

Injured man talking with his lawyer about his malpractice settlement.

What Is Classified as a Medical Malpractice Case?

A medical malpractice case is any legal case involving a medical provider, such as a doctor, nurse, or anesthesiologist, who fails to adhere to accepted professional standards of care. In a medical context, a standard of care describes how a reasonably prudent medical provider would behave under similar circumstances.

If medical providers fail to meet the accepted standards of care for their profession, their negligence can leave patients with severe or fatal injuries. When this occurs, injured patients or surviving family members of deceased patients can file medical malpractice claims against the negligent provider to demand financial compensation for their losses.

Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help You

The medical malpractice attorneys from the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates will listen to your story and help you understand your legal rights and options for recovery, based on the circumstances of your case, whether you’re in Washington, D.C., or in nearby Virginia or Maryland.

In Virginia, for example, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the date when the alleged medical malpractice injury occurred, although certain exceptions apply.

In Maryland, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is five years from the date when the alleged medical malpractice injury occurred or three years from when the patient knew or reasonably should have known about the malpractice, whichever comes first.

Our medical malpractice legal team can help you by:

  • Thoroughly investigating the medical and legal aspects of your case
  • Managing important documents and deadlines on your behalf
  • Calculating the value of the compensation you deserve
  • Communicating with others on your behalf
  • Negotiating forcefully to maximize your insurance settlement
  • Taking your case to court if necessary

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

Our principal attorney, Dr. Michael Wilson, has the medical and legal background to handle even the most complex medical malpractice claims. Contact the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates today to learn more in a free initial case review.

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