A Statute of Limitations refers to the maximum length of time that individuals have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of the offense. Statutes of limitations can vary depending on the nature of the offense. In this blog, we will discuss the medical malpractice statute of limitations and its terms in the state of Indiana.
In Indiana, a claim for medical malpractice generally must be brought within two years after the date of the claimed act of malpractice. Accordingly, if one were claiming that a doctor committed malpractice in performing a surgery that occurred on March 15, 2021, the patient would need to bring the claim within two years, or before March 15, 2023.
There are some exceptions to this general rule on a two-year statute of limitations. The first is where the victim of the negligent act is less than six years of age. For such a child claimant, the child has until his or her 8th birthday to file a claim. In such a circumstance, it would be the responsibility of the parent or guardian of the child to bring the claim on behalf of the child.
There is also an exception to the general two-year rule to bring a malpractice claim, which is the so-called “discovery rule.” This rule applies where the patient did not have sufficient information to know that he or she had a claim of malpractice to bring within the two-year period.
A classic example would be where a surgery was performed and some object, such as a sponge or clip, was left within the body. If it was only, for example, four years later that the patient began to experience symptoms caused by the object and only thereafter learned about the problem from a later examining doctor, the patient would have two years after the time of being told by the later doctor on the discovery of the retained object in the body. Under the discovery rule, a patient generally has two years after the point where a reasonable person would have had sufficient information to conclude that they had been a victim of negligent care. Oftentimes, that two-year period runs once a later healthcare provider tells the patient of the problem which was previously unidentified.
Because of the challenges in bringing a medical malpractice claim, we here at Foley & Small encourage patients who have reason to believe that they were a victim of malpractice to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Steps must be taken to evaluate the claim, including obtaining pertinent medical records and, often, having those records reviewed by a medical expert to determine whether there is a valid factual and legal basis to assert a claim.