How Long Do I Have to Sue a Hospital?

Medical Malpractice

Unfortunately, you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of the negligence or carelessness of healthcare providers. Although you went to the hospital for treatment of a serious health condition, things happened that caused you further injury or harm, and you want to obtain compensation for all you have lost along with the ongoing effects the injury will have on your future.

Virginia allows injured parties two years from the date of their injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court. However, certain exceptions may extend the time you have to file. You need to be aware of your options for obtaining compensation, and you need to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney for assistance.

When Can You Sue a Hospital?

Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Sue a HospitalTo obtain compensation for injuries or losses you suffered because of a hospital or healthcare provider’s wrongdoing, you must show they were responsible for causing your injury or the death of your loved one.

Medical malpractice falls under tort law, like car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and defective product claims. Sometimes, product liability and drug liability claims can arise alongside medical malpractice claims, such as those involving defective medical devices or dangerous pharmaceuticals.

Most of the time, however, medical malpractice lawsuits result from:

  • Diagnosis errors, including delayed, missed, or incorrect diagnosis
  • Negligent or improper treatment
  • Medication errors
  • Surgical errors

Medical malpractice claims can arise from any instance where a healthcare provider injures a patient through error, negligence, carelessness, or some other wrongdoing during evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. You have the right to obtain compensation for your injuries if a healthcare provider hurt you, but you must act quickly to ensure you can get all you need.

Virginia’s Statute of Limitations

You must file your lawsuit in Virginia civil court within two years of your injury, otherwise, you may forfeit any chance of obtaining compensation. The two-year statute also applies to wrongful death in Virginia. If you do not file your suit by that time, the insurance company can deny your claim, and the court can dismiss your case. If this occurs, you will likely have no other legal recourse to get compensation.

In almost all cases, the clock starts running on the date of your injury or the date of your loved one’s death, so you need to consult an attorney immediately to help you build your case and submit your claim or lawsuit.

However, the state also recognizes that injured parties may not discover their injuries until sometime after the incident, and the court can extend the statute of limitations in certain circumstances.

Extending Virginia’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

Although the two-year statute of limitations is a mandated deadline for medical malpractice, some instances can extend the time you have to file your suit.

They include:

  • Fraud, deceit, or other questionable actions prevented you from discovering your injury during the two-year period. The court can extend the statute of limitations for one year from the time you actually discovered your injury.
  • Surgeons or hospital staff left a foreign object inside you during surgery. In these cases, you have a one-year extension to file from the date you discovered the foreign object inside you.
  • If your claim involves failure to diagnose a specific health condition, you may receive a one-year extension from the date you received an accurate diagnosis.

The court may also extend the statute of limitations in cases involving minor children as well as those who fall under the state’s statutory definition of disabled. Extensions involving minors and disabled persons have their own limitations, so you need to consult an experienced attorney medical for malpractice right away for advice regarding your case.

Another exception that can extend the medical malpractice statute of limitations is the limited discovery rule. In simplest terms, it means you didn’t realize you were injured until sometime after the injury-causing event, and during that time, you had no reason to suspect you were injured.

For example, you could have suffered brain, nerve, or organ damage that didn’t present symptoms until months, or even years, later. Another example is when someone is in a coma for months or years. During incapacitation, the person obviously can’t alert doctors of symptoms they are having, and they may have no recollection of the injury-causing event when they awake.

In these instances, the state tolls the statute of limitations, or pauses or delays it. Although Virginia offers extensions to its statute of limitations, they are not indefinite. The length of any extension will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case, and the statute includes provisions for instances in which either the person filing suit dies or the defendant dies before the civil action commences.

Virginia’s medical malpractice statutes of limitations and extensions are complex, so you need to discuss your matter with an attorney as soon as possible if any of these circumstances apply to you.

Statute of Repose

The state also imposes a statute of repose for medical malpractice and other tortious lawsuits. Virginia does not allow injured parties to submit medical malpractice claims 10 years after the incident. The only exceptions are cases involving minors under 18 or legally incapacitated patients.

Does Virginia’s Statute of Limitations Apply to the Trial?

No. The statute only applies to the time you have to file your lawsuit with the court. The court will schedule a trial, which may extend beyond two years. But as long as you file suit with the court within two years of your injury (or within an extension, if applicable), you should be fine.

How Can a Medical Malpractice Attorney Help Me?

Edward McNelis - Virginia Lawyer for Medical Malpractice
Edward McNelis, Medical Malpractice Attorney

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will increase your chances of getting favorable outcomes. Medical malpractice is a highly complex, specialized legal area that requires in-depth knowledge of laws and procedures and experience dealing with insurance companies and the courts.

You need a Virginia personal injury lawyer on your side who can carefully explain your options, advise you of your best courses of action, and fight hard to help you get all you deserve after a negligent healthcare provider caused you or a loved one unnecessary harm.