When someone is injured by a medical professional, filing a lawsuit is often not the first thought on their mind. Injuries from medical malpractice and negligence can have serious side effects with lengthy recovery times. Unfortunately for the injured person and their family members, time is not on their side when it comes to protecting their right to sue for recovery of damages.
Statute of Limitations: What Does It Mean?
Even after being told that a statute of limitations applies to their case, many people may not realize what that phrase actually means. Simply put, it is a potential time limit that can bar a person from ever filing a lawsuit, regardless of the potential outcome of the case. This means that even if an injured person has “the smoking gun” proving that a doctor is responsible for their injuries, if the time provided by the statute of limitations passes, they are forever barred from filing a lawsuit to recover damages pursuant to that incident. A bar such as this can mean that an injured person, or their estate in some unfortunate cases, is left on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and lost damages for pain and suffering.
Illinois and Wisconsin
In Illinois, someone who believes that their injuries were caused by medical malpractice must file a lawsuit within two years of the date that he or she discovered the injury. Further, courts have barred some cases in which the injured party did not have knowledge of the malpractice until after two years has gone by, but the court found evidence that they should have known of the injury. This is a very strict standard that could cause a complaint to be dismissed before anyone even looks at the evidence.
Wisconsin’s law is a bit different, as it provides an injured party with three years from the date of their injury to file a lawsuit. However, in Wisconsin, if a party does not discover the injury until after the three years has passed, they only have one year from that date of discovery to file suit or be barred from filing. Under both Illinois and Wisconsin laws, a potential plaintiff must file any claim for medical malpractice within four and five years, respectively, from the date of the actual act or omission. Simply put, even if an injured party did not know (or had no reason to know) that their injury was caused by medical malpractice until six years after the incident, any lawsuit would be barred.
Medical malpractice can be a very complex area of law, especially when a case involves difficult and complicated medical procedures. The impact on an injured person from a doctor’s carelessness can be even more complex and difficult, however, and injured parties should not be left holding the bill. If you or your loved one has been injured by a doctor’s careless act, or failure to act, call the Barrington professionals at the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. today. Time may not be on your side, but our experienced attorneys are and will work hard to get you the help you need.