There is a general two-year time limit (statute of limitations) on filing medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania, but there are many exceptions to the time limit and factors affecting when the time begins to run. If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, contact Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney, Eric Weitz, at the Weitz Firm LLC to schedule a consultation. It is important to consult with an expert to determine the strength of your case and to make sure you preserve your claim because if you wait too long, you may run out of time and you will not be able to file your claim.
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is two years after the cause of action has accrued. The cause of action accrues presumably at the time the alleged malpractice took place, but there are some exceptions to that. There are also exceptions to the two year limit, so if it has been over two years since your claim accrued seek legal advice from a medical malpractice attorney to determine whether or not you fall within any of the exceptions to the limitation.
Minors are at an unfair advantage when they are injured due to medical malpractice. They are not necessarily mature enough to understand that they are injured or that their injuries were caused by a medical professional’s negligence. For this reason, Pennsylvania provides an exception for minors so that the statute of limitations is tolled until the age of 18. This generally means that a minor’s statute of limitations begins to run when they turn 18 so that they may bring a claim until they turn 20 years old. There are exceptions to this that may give minors an even longer amount of time to bring a claim in some cases.
For patients who did not know about their injuries, the discovery rule may help them get past the two-year statute of limitations hurdle. Pennsylvania’s discovery rule may extend the amount of time until two years after the injuries are discovered or until a patient reasonably is able to connect the injuries to the alleged medical malpractice. Essentially the statute of limitations does not begin to run until a plaintiff knows or reasonably should know that an injury occurred and that the injury is related to the alleged malpractice. There are also exceptions to the discovery rule, which makes seeking advice from a medical malpractice attorney necessary before you conclude that the statute of limitations has or has not run for your case.
Pennsylvania’s statute of repose places limits on the length of time a plaintiff has to bring case even if the discovery rule would apply. The rule provides that no cause of action may be brought after 7 years from the time the alleged malpractice occurred. This applies to the discovery rule in some, but not all cases, so if a plaintiff does not discover the injury until after seven years has passed, he or she may be barred from bringing the case. There are some exceptions such as when the injury involves a minor or someone who was a minor at the time of the alleged malpractice or when a foreign object has been left in a plaintiff’s body from a medical procedure.
These are some basic guidelines for a medical malpractice statute of limitations in Pennsylvania, but it is essential that you understand that there are many exceptions (and exceptions to exceptions) and technicalities to the statute of limitations. There are also other things that may affect the statute of limitations in a case such as a medical professional’s fraudulent concealment of the injury/medical malpractice. Our Philadelphia medical malpractice team at The Weitz Firm LLC is available to review the facts of your case and help you determine what the applicable statute of limitations and exceptions are for your medical malpractice case.