Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations: State-By-State Guide

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Margot Lester

Wondering how long after surgery can you sue for medical malpractice? The answer varies depending on your state and where the alleged misconduct occurred. It’s important to know your state’s medical malpractice statute of limitations so your claim doesn’t get barred from the courts.

Here are other types of statute of limitations arranged by state:

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5 Common Medical Malpractice Claims

Here are 5 types of frequently filed medical malpractice claims affected by the statute of limitations in your state:

  1. Misdiagnosis. These claims result from getting the diagnosis wrong or missing the diagnosis entirely. Misdiagnosis frequently involves cancer and heart attacks, the leading causes of death for American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
  2. Failure to treat. Sometimes, physicians diagnose correctly but don’t provide treatment in light with the “standard of care”. This includes failing to order tests or make a referral and discharging prematurely.
  3. Surgical errors. An estimated 4,000 surgical errors occur each year in the United States, including operating on the wrong body part or patient, failing to remove sponges and other items, and lacerating or injuring tissues during robotic procedures.
  4. Medication errors. Another common claim involves mistakes in medication, including prescribing the wrong medication or dosage and missing interactions with other prescribed drugs.
  5. Birth injuries. These claims cover harm to the mother or child during pregnancy or delivery. Examples include failing to control the mother’s post-delivery excessive maternal blood loss or to monitor the baby’s pre- and post-delivery oxygen intake. Unintentional injury is one of the leading causes of infant death, according to the CDC. This form of medical malpractice also deals with wrongful birth and wrongful pregnancy. In some cases, parents can also sue for emotional pain and suffering that results from these harms.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations By-State

StateStatutes Listed By StateDeadline to File Your Claim
AlabamaAla. Code Title 6. Civil Practice § 6-5-4822 Years
AlaskaAlaska State. § 9.10.070 (a)2 Years
ArizonaAriz. Rev. Stat. § 12-5422 Years
ArkansasArk. Code § 16-14-2032 Years
CaliforniaCCP § 340.51 Year After Discoveryor3 Years After Injury
ColoradoColo. Rev. Stat. § 13-80-102.52 Years
ConnecticutCT Gen Stat § 52-5842 Years
DelawareDel. Code tit. 18 § 68562 Years
FloridaFlorida Statutes Annotated section 95.11(4)(b)2 Years
DCTitle 12, Chapter 3, § 12-3013 Years
GeorgiaGa. Code § 9-3-712 Years
HawaiiHawaii Revised Statute § 657.7.32 Years
IdahoTitle 5, Chapter 2, § 5-2192 Years
Illinois735 ILCS section 5/13-212(a)2 Years
IndianaInd. Code § 34-18-7-12 Years
IowaIA Code § 614.12 Years
KansasChapter 60, Art 5, § 60-5132 Years
KentuckyKentucky Revised Statutes section 413.140(1)(a)1 Year
LouisianaLA Rev Stat § 9:56281 Year
MainePL 2013, c. 329, §2 (AMD)3 Years
MarylandMd. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-1093 Years After Discovery of Injuryor5 Years After Occurrence
MassachusettsTitle 5, Chapter 260, § 43 Years
MinnesotaMN Stat § 541.0764 Years
MichiganMichigan Comp. Laws section 600.58052 Years
MississippiMS Code § 15-1-362 Years
MissouriMO Rev Stat § 516.1052 Years
MontanaMont. Code § 27-2-2053 Years
NebraskaNeb. Rev. Stat. § 44-28282 Years
NevadaChapter 11, Sec 11.190(4)(e)3 Years After Date of Injuryor1 Year After Discovery of Injury
New HampshireNH Rev Stat § 507-C:42 Years
New JerseyN.J. Stat. § 2A:14-22 Years
New MexicoNM Stat § 41-5-133 Years
New YorkNY CPLR § 214-a(b)2.5 Years
North CarolinaTitle 1, § 1-523 Years
North DakotaN.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-182 Years
OhioOhio Revised Code section 2305.1131 Year
Oklahoma76 OK Stat § 182 Years
OregonORS § 12.1102 Years
Pennsylvania42 Pa. C.S. § 55242 Years
Rhode IslandRI Gen L § 9-1-14.13 Years
South CarolinaSC Code § 15-3-5453 Years
South DakotaS.D. Codified Laws § 15-2-14.12 Years
TennesseeTN Code § 29-26-1161 Year After Discovery of Injuryor3 Years After Date of Injury
TexasTex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.0032 Years
UtahUtah Code section 78B-3-4042 Years
VermontVt. Stat. tit. 12 § 5213 Years
VirginiaTitle 8.01, Chapter 4, § 8.01-2432 Years
WashingtonRCW §§ 4.16.3503 Years
West VirginiaW. Va. Code § 55-7B-42 Years
WisconsinChapter 893, § 893.553 Years
WyomingWY Stat § 1-3-1072 Years

Why Do People File Medical Malpractice Claims?

You can make a civil medical malpractice or liability claim against a healthcare provider whose negligent act or omission causes injury or death. In most cases, you must establish that:

  • The provider-patient relationship existed at the time the alleged event
  • The provider violated an accepted standard of care that resulted in the harm
  • The injury is compensable with economic and non-economic damages

However, you must always file your claim before the statute of limitations for medical malpractice expires in your state. Once this crucial deadline passes, you cannot win a cash settlement even with a valid claim.

Can You Sue the VA for Medical Malpractice?

You can sue healthcare providers employed by the VA for malpractice. The rules involving professionals who are federal contractors recently changed thanks to the case of Brian Talley, an Army vet whose original malpractice claim was denied because of the provider’s employment status and a statute of limitations issue.

The Brian Tally VA Employment Transparency Act, signed into law in January 2021, requires the VA to advise veterans of “the importance of securing legal counsel” and to identify the employment status of all individuals involved in the case within 30 days of submitting a malpractice claim.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims varies widely by state. In most cases, the medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years. However, there are some exceptions that can work in your favor:

  • Almost half of U.S. states have special provisions for cases involving foreign objects, such as sponges and other items.
  • The majority of states extend the time limit for cases involving minors. This also applies to children who experienced birth injuries.

To make sure your case isn’t ruled out because the statute of limitations for medical malpractice has expired, always speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your state to review your options.

An Attorney Can Potentially Extend Your Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

If you think you have a case for medical malpractice, it’s vital to contact an attorney specializing in this area in your state as soon as possible. If you delay, you may lose your right to sue and potentially receive a cash settlement for the injury.

These cases occur in state courts, which set deadlines — called statutes of limitations — for filing claims. Once you discover (or “should” have realized) that you may have been injured or adversely affected, the clock starts. However, experienced attorneys can also look for ways to “toll” these statues, which may give you more time to settle.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online medical malpractice case evaluation now!

Margot Lester
CEO at The Word Factory | + posts

Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a content marketing agency based in North Carolina that provides services for international healthcare brands, tech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.