What is the statute of limitation for medical malpractice in PA?

December 3rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

The statute of limitation for medical malpractice in Pennsylvania is generally two years from the date the cause of action accrues. In some cases, the cause of action accrues when the medical care is rendered, such as a surgical date. However, there are many other circumstances in which the statute of limitations could begin to run later.  Pennsylvania’s 7-year statute of repose was recently held unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In certain circumstances, a “tolling” will apply. This may occur, for example, in cases of fraud or where a reasonably diligent patient could not have discovered the relationship between the medical care and the harm suffered within the two (2) years. In those circumstances, the statute of limitations would begin to run when such discovery can or should have taken place. Again, this is a very complex field and is factually intensive.  Minors do not have to begin an action for medical malpractice until two (2) years after reaching the age of majority.

According to Pennsylvania law, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional commits medical negligence by violating the generally accepted standard of care. The resulting injury must have been directly caused by the professional’s actions or omission of actions, and the injury must have led to damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died due to medical malpractice you may be entitled to receive financial compensation to cover both:

  • economic damages, such as medical and hospital expenses (past, present and future), rehabilitation expenses, loss of wages as well as loss of future wage horizon, and many other so-called “specials”, and
  • non-economic quality-of-life losses, such as pain and suffering; emotional distress and trauma; disfigurement; loss of life’s pleasures; loss of consortium, society and services in connection with a spouse.

However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to. Medical malpractice law is complicated and the window of time you have to file a case passes quickly. If the statute of limitations run out, you may not be able to bring a case at all. Therefore, it makes sense to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney if you even suspect you have a medical malpractice case.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to negligence and malpractice by medical professionals and hospitals. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation.

We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your case and determine how we can help, so contact us online or call our offices at (570) 323-8711 to set up your free and confidential consultation.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania

In many circumstances, the clock starts running form the time you are aware of the following:

  • The date of the care, treatment or surgery;
  • For “tolling” purposes, the time that you discovered the fraud or became aware reasonably of the relationship between the care and the harm suffered;
  • You suffered an injury,
  • The conduct that caused the injury, and
  • The relationship between the injury and the conduct that caused it.

Regardless of the above circumstances, Pennsylvania, under the Mcare Act, did have a statute of repose, which was seven (7) years for certain care and treatment, but that has recently been held unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In Pennsylvania, the law seems to have moved in the direction of finding that for both a wrongful death and survival action, a case must be filed within two (2) years of the date of death. That was not always the situation, and there are those who still believe that there is a different statute of limitations for wrongful death as opposed to a survival action. Again, you need to talk to somebody who is experienced in the field of medical malpractice.

A person who is injured by medical negligence while still a minor does not have to start a case prior to age 20 and has seven years from the date of their 20th birthday to bring a case to court, regardless of the date of the injury.

If you do try to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, the chances are the court will dismiss the case. You should always seek legal advice to make sure you understand how the Pennsylvania statute of limitations applies to your situation, as well as other Pennsylvania medical malpractice laws that determine whether you can pursue a successful case. Contact Cliff Rieders online or call (570) 323-8711 today.

Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case – Special Situations

If a foreign object was left in the patient, the time limit may be extended past this date. Some symptoms do not show up for a period of time, during which these patients did not have a reason to realize they were harmed by a medical provider’s negligence. If a surgeon negligently left behind a foreign object in the body, a patient may not be aware of it for years.

If symptoms show up after a passage of time, the patient may not even relate the symptoms to the surgery. It may take multiple visits to several doctors before a test is ordered that reveals that the source of the problem was the foreign object left from the original operation.

In this case, the statute of limitations clock may start running not from the date that the object was left in the body, but from the date the problem was revealed. If this date was past the ordinary statute of limitations, the patient would be allowed to file the lawsuit even beyond the seven-year limit.

If You Have a Claim

For any medical malpractice case, time is of the essence, no matter what the circumstances. It is essential to have a skilled and knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer on your side, especially since the laws are so complicated.

If you or your loved one has suffered from medical malpractice, do not risk having the statute of limitations clock run out. If you have a claim, consult Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann. Contact us online or call (570) 323-8711 today.

Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, the experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann are familiar with the law and thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome and getting you the compensation you deserve.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.  Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice.  Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania.  Cliff Rieders wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state.  Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state.  Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field.  Cliff has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. Rieders is a Nationally Board certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York State, District of Columbia and numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.  Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.  Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical and hospital malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields.  Cliff Rieders does substantial work in multi-district litigation in connection with pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

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