Victims of medical malpractice, and their families, are often facing incredible hardships, physically, emotionally, and financially. The law currently limits the time to file a lawsuit in medical malpractice cases to two years from the time of occurrence. One of the most difficult aspects of this time limit is the legal discovery process. Discovery can be extremely difficult and complex in medical malpractice cases, and may take longer than allotted. A recent case was decided by the Illinois Supreme Court which determined that the plaintiff would be allowed more time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Moon v. Rhode
In Moon v. Rhode, the plaintiff did immediately find out that his mother died because of medical malpractice. The medical report was only available after a medical consulting firm reviewed the case and made a determination. The report was not provided until the two-year filing limit had almost been reached, making it impossible for attorneys to file the case in time. The man argued that the discovery rule should allow the time necessary to review the matter.
The court found in this case that the statute of limitations should not apply because the man was not aware of the circumstances of his mother’s death for almost two years. The court remanded the original lawsuit and allowed the plaintiff to file a new lawsuit against the radiologist. This ruling may impact the way medical malpractice cases may be filed in the future.
Statute of Limitations
The court found that the date that applies to start the clock running should be determined by a trial court. This would apply if the case warrants such an action. For instance, in situations such as the one in Moon v. Rhode, if the time limit will become problematic, the plaintiff should take the matter to court. The court will decide when to start the statute of limitations clock.
New Ruling Changes Options for Victims
The new ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court clarifies the matter of the time limit to file cases, as it specifically applies to medical malpractice, wrongful death, and survival act cases. The discovery rule should prevent the start of clock until the plaintiff knows, or reasonably should have known, of the wrongful injury. Without the discovery rule, the victim’s date of death is the date used for the start of the two-year statute of limitations period.
More Time is Beneficial
The new rules in place could make it easier for some people to file lawsuits. In the past, many families were unable to file claims because of the lengthy process that is involved in determining that malpractice has taken place. Certainly, there are still challenges in invoking the new rules because the cases must warrant their use. However, in many instances, the option will be helpful for those who were not able to attain the information necessary to proceed in a timely manner.
If your loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, contact the experienced legal team at Levin & Perconti to review your case.
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