What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania?
The statute of limitations is the law that sets time limits for people in various situations to take legal action. Parties who fail to take legal action within the statutory period lose their right to sue forever. Each state has its own statute of limitations for causes of action that take place within its boundaries. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years beginning on the date when the act of medical malpractice causes injury.
However, since malpractice is rarely evident at the time it happens, malpractice claims get the benefit of the discovery rule, which tolls the statutory period until the victim knows, or should have known, that an injury has occurred. Therefore, from the date the victim discovers an injury due to medical malpractice, he or she has two years to file a claim.
Injured parties must also observe the statute of repose
But the discovery rule is also limited by a law called the statute of repose, which sets the outer limit of time that an undiscovered cause of action remains viable. Since 2002, Pennsylvania has had a statute of repose for medical malpractice claims set at seven years. This means a victim of medical malpractice must discover his injury and file a lawsuit within seven years of the negligent treatment.
So, if you have been harmed by substandard medical care, you must file a lawsuit within seven years of the negligent treatment and within two years of discovering the harm. For example, if you had surgery in January 20, 2010, but didn’t feel discomfort in the operative site until September 8, 2015, you must file a lawsuit by January 20, 2017 to meet the statute of repose, even though the statute of limitations would allow you to file up to September 8, 2017.
There are other exceptions that may extend either statutory period, so it is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney who can apply the facts of your case to the law.
Rudberg Law Offices, LLC represents victims of medical malpractice in Pittsburgh and throughout western Pennsylvania. If you have been injured due to substandard medical care, schedule a free consultation by calling 412-488-6000 or contacting our Pittsburgh office online.