In Alabama, the statute of limitations on most medical malpractice claims is two years from the date on which the injury occurred or that the claimant knew or reasonably should have known that they were injured. However, there are certain circumstances that can result in an extension of the deadline. If you have been injured as a result of a medical provider’s negligence and are planning to seek compensation, an experienced medical malpractice attorney from Morris Bart can help you understand the complex process involved in these claims and the services our firm can provide to assist you.
How the Alabama Statute of Limitations Impacts Your Claim
As explained by Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII), the statute of limitations is a law that bars personal injury claimants from seeking compensation through the civil court system when a certain period of time has passed. The reasons why state lawmakers determine a statute of limitations in a personal injury claim include:
- Ensuring that lawsuits are heard in a timely manner
- To preserve evidence and witness testimony that might otherwise become lost or cloudy as time passes
If you fail to meet the statutory deadline for your claim, you lose the right to seek compensation for your injury through the courts.
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When the Statute of Limitations Is Tolled in Alabama Medical Malpractice Claims
As covered in Alabama Code §6-2-38, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the date of the injury, which is the same as other types of personal injury lawsuits. The following circumstances can cause this deadline to be extended. It should be noted that the claim merely needs to be filed in court by this date, but the case does not have to be resolved within this timeframe.
The Discovery Rule
The discovery rule allows additional time for filing a lawsuit if the sufferer did not immediately realize they were injured. One occurrence in which this can happen is in medical malpractice claims involving a surgical tool or implement such as a towel or sponge being left in the body. Because it is impossible to see the object left in the body without diagnostic scans or another surgery, the individual would not necessarily be aware that it was there and causing additional damage until they began experiencing symptoms and those symptoms were medically discovered.
If an individual does not discover their injury right away, they have two years from the date on which they discovered the injury or reasonably should have known about it to file a claim.
How the Statute of Limitations Applies to Minors
Particularly young children who have been injured as a result of medical malpractice often do not have the ability to provide testimony about their injury as they have not reached the stage in development in which they can clearly communicate such information. Because of this, all medical malpractice claims involving a minor victim have an extended statute of limitations of four years from the date of the injury. For lawsuits involving children who were under the age of four at the time of their injury, the parents or guardian of the child have until the child’s eighth birthday to file a claim.
The Maximum Amount of Time You Have to File Your Claim
The maximum amount of time that adult claimants have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is four years after the malpractice occurred, regardless of whether they discovered the injury within that time. This is known as the statute of repose. Because minor children have their own statute of limitations, this four-year statute of repose does not apply to claims involving minors.
How an Attorney Can Help You Meet the Statute of Limitations in Your Case
While two years seems like a lot of time to file a claim, it really isn’t when it involves a medical malpractice claim. These claims rely on the ability to obtain medical documentation to be used as evidence, and require an evaluation by a medical professional with experience in the same medical practice area as the claim pertains to. One of the most important tasks your attorney has is to manage the timelines in your case to protect your right to seek compensation for your injuries if the at-fault party’s insurance provider fails to pay the claim or offers an unfair settlement.
While managing the timelines, they will also provide services such as:
- Investigating the claim to determine all sources of liability and associated insurance resources that can be used to provide your compensation
- Determining a value of your claim that accurately reflects the expenses and impacts you have incurred as a result of your injury
- Managing communication with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in order to protect the value of your claim and negotiate a settlement
- Obtaining an Affidavit of Merit, which must be submitted alongside your lawsuit when you file it in court, or within 90 days after filing if the affidavit cannot be completed within the statute of limitations for your claim
Getting Help with Your Medical Malpractice Claim
The experienced legal team from Morris Bart consists of more than 100 attorneys and 150 legal professionals working out of 15 offices in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. We have been assisting the injured of these areas for decades. We are one of the most prestigious law firms on the Gulf Coast, garnering millions of dollars in needed compensation for our clients.
Let us help you understand your legal options for seeking compensation for the impacts and expenses of the injury you incurred as a result of medical negligence. Contact us for your free case evaluation.
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