What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims in Pennsylvania?
For every type of personal injury claim, there’s a time limit dictating how long you have to take legal action. These time limits are called statutes of limitations, and they vary by state and by the cause of injury.
If you’ve suffered a medical injury or didn’t receive proper medical care in the state of Pennsylvania, you can take legal action seeking compensation. This type of civil case is called a medical malpractice claim.
If you hope to gain money over negligent medical actions in Pennsylvania, you need to know how the laws set time limits and whether there's still time for you to initiate legal proceedings.
Reasons to Consider a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Claim
An individual can file a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania for several reasons. First, there’s straightforward injury, like a surgery that causes additional damage rather than resolving the initial health problem.
You can also pursue compensation for lack of action by medical providers. Examples of this include failure to provide care and failure to diagnose.
Birth injury is another common form of medical negligence that can lead to a medical malpractice claim. If medical care – or lack thereof – led to a patient’s death, immediate family members like a spouse, parent, or child can seek compensation through a wrongful death action.
Time Limits on Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania
The state of Pennsylvania allows up to two years for initiating legal action over any type of medical malpractice claim. This statute of limitations applies to all types of medical malpractice cases, including a wrongful death claim for medical actions that resulted in death.
However, Pennsylvania law allows one significant exception to this time limit. In some cases, an individual doesn’t immediately discover the consequences of medical actions. A few examples include:
- Birth injuries that later manifest as development delays
- Misread imaging or test results that showed cancer
- Surgery that caused infertility
- Medical equipment left inside the body
The law protects individuals in cases like these, when the injury may not be discovered until years later. In these cases, the statute of limitations is extended to begin at the date of discovery rather than the date of the incident. Legally, this practice of extending a statute of limitations start date is called “tolling.”
The state of Pennsylvania allows tolling for up to seven years after the initial medical negligence occurred. In some cases, tolling is possible in the event of disability or if the medical injury happened to a minor.
Why Waiting to Take Legal Action over Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Is a Mistake
If you think a bad medical experience leaves you with grounds for a medical malpractice claim, a medical malpractice attorney in Pennsylvania will advise you on how to proceed.
Achieving a successful outcome takes the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Without informed legal representation, it’s unlikely you’ll gain the full compensation value you qualify for – if you gain any at all.
The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania allows up to two years for a medical malpractice claim and up to seven when circumstances permit tolling. However, that’s not much time in the legal world.
A medical malpractice attorney must do significant work to collect evidence, build a case, consult with experts and specialists, and exhaust insurance options before filing a legal action. Waiting puts your case at risk of running out of time before a lawyer has established the evidence you need to gain fair compensation.
The thought of taking legal action gives many people pause, but hesitation can be a financially disastrous mistake. Medical malpractice attorneys see how much is lost when clients with a valid claim wait too long to come forward and speak with a lawyer.
It’s always better to be proactive, especially given the generous compensation available in a Pennsylvania medical malpractice case.