Suffering harm at your doctor’s hands can be a very shocking and traumatic experience – when you seek care from your doctor, you expect that the results will be positive for your health and wellbeing, not harmful. But when medical malpractice is involved, that’s exactly what can happen. In fact, statistics show that medical errors are now a leading cause of injury and death in the United States.

If you’ve been harmed by your doctor’s actions, you only have so much time to bring forth a medical malpractice claim, which is governed by the state’s statute of limitations. Here’s an overview of what you should know about the statute of limitations and the discovery rule in a medical malpractice case–

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Massachusetts

The standard deadline for bringing forth a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor, hospital, or another healthcare provider in Massachusetts is three years from the date that the act of malpractice occurred. This three-year limitation is found in Chapter 260, Section 4 of Massachusetts General Laws. If you wait longer than three years from the date of the cause of action to file your tort, you will be barred from recovery.

However, there is an exception to this, as explained by the discovery rule. 

Discovery Rule

While the statute of limitations holds that a civil action must be commenced within three years from the date of act of malpractice, there are some situations where a patient does not learn of the malpractice or the harm that they have suffered immediately and, therefore, holding them to the same three-year deadline is unfair. For example, consider a patient who is diagnosed with a disease on January 1, 2019 and begins treatment for the disease. A year later, the patient learns that they were misdiagnosed and mistreated, and that the disease that they are actually suffering from has progressed severely, putting their life in jeopardy. Rather than being bound to the three-year limit starting on January 1, 2019, the patient would have three years from the date of discovery of the malpractice, not the actual date it occurred.

According to the same section of Massachusetts statute cited above, a patient has up to seven years after the occurrence of “the act or omission which is the alleged cause of the injury” to bring forth a claim, but no more. The only exception to this is in cases of surgical errors where a foreign object is left within the body, in which event there is no limit on the amount of time that a patient has. (The patient must still bring forth their claim within three years of discovery; however, if this falls outside of the seven-year limit, the suit may still proceed.)  

Call Our Boston Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today

To learn more about filing a medical malpractice case in Boston, how much time you have to take action, what your rights are, and the types of damages you can recover, please reach out to our Boston medical malpractice lawyers at Lovenberg & Associates, P.C. today for your free consultation. Reach us only or at (617) 973-9950.