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Medical malpractice is a tort, or wrongdoing, committed by a doctor or another health care provider against a patient. It is the failure to meet the required standards of care within the medical industry. When medical malpractice results in a patient injury, the victim can pursue financial compensation. However, the victim must file a medical malpractice claim within Connecticut’s statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations is a time limit set by state law by which legal proceedings must be initiated. Once the prescribed time period has passed, a victim generally loses the right to file a claim. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to promote fairness in legal proceedings. The law recognizes that as time passes, evidence may become lost or unreliable; for instance, witnesses may forget the details of what they saw. A time limit promotes prompt filing, while evidence is still available.
Under Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-584, a legal action to recover damages for injury to a person caused by the malpractice of a health care professional – including a doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist, podiatrist, chiropractor, hospital or sanatorium – must be brought within two years from the date that the injury is first sustained.
In an exception known as the discovery rule, if a victim does not discover his or her injuries right away, the clock on the statute of limitations will not start counting down until two years from the date of discovery or the date that the injury should have been discovered in the exercise of reasonable care.
Connecticut also has a statute of repose on medical malpractice claims. This is a separate time limit that establishes an absolute deadline by which legal action must be initiated, regardless of when the injury or harm is discovered. The statute of repose is three years from the date of the medical malpractice, regardless of when the victim discovers his or her harm.
For example, if a patient undergoes surgery and suffers from a foreign object left behind in his or her body cavity, the victim only has three years from the date of the operation to file a medical malpractice claim, regardless of when the injury is discovered. While this may not seem fair, this is the law in Connecticut with only a few exceptions.
If a loved one passes away due to a fatal medical malpractice event, the statute of limitations in Connecticut changes. Rather than having two years from the date of injury or discovery of injury, a claimant has two years from the date of the victim’s death. If the patient survived after the act of malpractice, the clock on the statute of limitations would not begin until the patient’s date of death. The statute of repose for a wrongful death claim is five years from the date of the wrongful act or malpractice, regardless of the date of death.
Two years may seem like a long time in which to file a medical malpractice claim. However, the deadline can approach quickly. Do not risk losing your right to seek financial compensation forever by waiting too long to contact a New Haven medical malpractice lawyer. Prompt legal action can ensure that you do not miss your statute of limitations. It can also help your case by preserving key evidence and medical records. Early action is always in a claimant’s best interest.