The application of the statute of limitations is one of the most critical issues in a potential hospital malpractice case. Whether a case is time-barred by the statute of limitations is a very fact intensive question that requires analysis of all relevant medical records, both before and after the negligence occurred. The unfortunate reality is that many patients may suspect malpractice, but simply don’t know what to do about it. That’s where a qualified medical malpractice lawyer comes in.
Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations in a Hospital or Emergency Room Malpractice Case
Under Pennsylvania tort or negligence laws, the general statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. In the case of hospital and ER negligence, that date is the day the negligent act occurred. In a case of a botched surgery, the date of the surgery is the date when the clock begins ticking. However, the law recognizes that in some instances, a party or patient is unable to discover the negligent act. Therefore, there is a special rule which may be applied in tort cases to stall or toll the statute.
The “discovery rule” is a special rule which can be applied in hospital and emergency room malpractice cases to toll the statute. Under the rule, where the existence of an injury is unknown to the patient, and the patient cannot uncover the injury despite exercising due diligence, the statute of limitations period does not begin to run until the patient discovers the injury. In other words, in a hospital or ER malpractice case, the clock does not being ticking until the patient reasonably uncovered the injury or negligent act.
However, under the rule, the patient must exercise due diligence, and what constitutes due diligence depends on the circumstances. When analyzing the statute of limitations and the application of the discovery rule in a hospital malpractice case in Pennsylvania, courts will apply an objective standard, i.e., what a reasonable person would have/should have done. Whether the patient sought medical treatment after the negligent act and what the patient was told about their symptoms or illness will be very important.
Related Pennsylvania hospital/emergency room malpractice legal articles:
- Corporate Negligence Claims in a Pennsylvania Hospital Malpractice Lawsuit
- Pennsylvania Hospital Medical Malpractice Law – Theories of Negligence Against Hospitals
- Proving Emergency Room Mistake & Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Hospital & Emergency Room Malpractice Law Firm
For more information, contact our Pennsylvania & New Jersey hospital emergency room lawyers at 215.925.4451. For nearly 30 years, our law firm has been seeking justice for patients and their families across the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation.
The lawyers at Schwartz & Blackman handle hospital and emergency room malpractice cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:
- PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
- NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities
*This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is important to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Published: September 10, 2012