Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Missouri
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Missouri is 2 years, meaning a patient has 2 years from the date of injury to file a complaint with the court. (RSMo. §516.105). However, medical malpractice claims are unique in that patients may either not know they are injured immediately or not know that their injury is due to a healthcare provider’s error.
Missouri’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Repose
According to Missouri’s statute of repose, a patient cannot file a medical malpractice claim if more than 10 years have passed since the medical error (no matter what type of medical mistake was made or when the injury was discovered).
Exceptions to Missouri’s Medical Malpractice Statute
Due to the likelihood of delayed discovery or patients not knowing about the injury, there are numerous exceptions to Missouri’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations.
Exceptions are as follows:
1) With regard to cases in which the alleged malpractice involves leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body, the statute of limitations begins either 2 years from the date of the discovery of the alleged medical negligence OR from the date on which the patient, in the exercise of ordinary care, should have discovered such alleged negligence, whichever date comes first. For example, if a patient underwent surgery on March 1, 2020, and a medical professional left a sponge inside the patient, the statute of limitations would not begin until the patient discovered the sponge. If the patient did not start having pain until March 1, 2022, when he or she saw a doctor who ordered an x-ray, and that x-ray was the first test to reveal the presence of the sponge, the patient would have to bring the lawsuit before March 1, 2024. Though the standard 2-year deadline would have passed from the date of the actual injury, one could convince a court that the discovery exception would apply to the medical malpractice .
2) For cases in which the alleged malpractice is a failure to inform the patient of medical test results, the statute of limitations begins either two years from the date of the discovery of the alleged negligence OR from the date on which the patient, in the exercise of ordinary care, should have discovered the failure to inform, whichever date comes first. However, this exception is not infinite. The statute for medical malpractice explicitly states that no claim or medical malpractice lawsuit can be brought for any failure to inform about medical test results more than 2 years before August 28, 1999.
3) With regard to cases in which the person bringing the medical malpractice claim is under the age of 18. Minors he or she has until his or her 20th birthday to bring a medical malpractice claim.
4) The fourth exception regards medical malpractice cases that result in death. The Missouri Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death states an advocate has 3 years from the patient’s death to file a medical malpractice claim.
There exist other exceptions outside those the statute outlines such that an attorney may evaluate additional Missouri medical malpractice laws for a case. This is why it’s extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as you suspect medical malpractice has occurred. The rationale behind these exceptions is to give patients ample opportunity to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after the standard statute of limitations has expired because of patients’ possible ignorance of a healthcare provider’s negligence. Additionally, the statute and its tolling exceptions allow patients enough time to receive medical treatment for their injuries and their attorneys enough time to perform legal research on whether a medical malpractice case is worth pursuing.
Under Missouri Law, those who have suffered injuries because of a medical professional are eligible to seek help from medical malpractice attorneys. After evaluating your case’s facts, performing legal research, and understanding the nature of your injuries, an attorney can help you make an informed decision regarding when to file a medical malpractice claim. The attorney may advise that the nature of your claim warrants filing right away, or he or she may find it more beneficial to try to negotiate with the healthcare provider’s attorney or insurance carrier to reach an out-of-court settlement. In most cases, attorneys will attempt to negotiate with the healthcare provider’s attorney or insurance carrier first, only resorting to a medical malpractice lawsuit if a reasonable settlement cannot be agreed upon after initial negotiation. This is especially likely if you are far out from the statute of limitations deadline. If the statute of limitations deadline is coming soon, a medical malpractice attorney may advise that filing right away is the right move to prevent missing your chance to file.
What happens if you miss the Missouri Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?
If you do not file your lawsuit within the timeframe provided by the Missouri’s medical malpractice statute of limitations, you are likely ineligible to pursue further legal action. In rare medical malpractice cases, a court may entertain the case after the 2-year deadline. Again, this is why contacting an attorney as soon as you notice or suspect malpractice is crucial if you are considering filing a lawsuit.
Get Legal Help
It is imperative to have attorney representation before filing a complaint. Your attorney will be well-versed in each state’s laws and will know what additional items are required to ensure a smooth litigation process. Some states require the initial complaint to be filed, evidence of merit presented (that is, the case has potential value), and that expert witnesses testify to the facts.
Speaking with an attorney, such as the trusted team of medical malpractice attorneys at Brown & Crouppen, will ensure that your case is evaluated and handled with the care it deserves. The consultation will also ensure that you know the steps required for a successful outcome and know that someone is fighting on your side to ensure you receive the justice you deserve.