What Is a Statute of Limitations?

Time limit on when lawsuits can be filed

A “statute of limitations,” or SOL, is a legal concept that restricts the maximum amount of time in which a lawsuit can be filed against another party. Statutes of limitations apply to most types of crimes, infractions, and claims – including those relevant to birth injury and other medical malpractice cases.

Most cases have statutes of limitations that expire a few years after the incident. It is important to note that after the time designated in the statute is expired, legal action cannot be filed against the opposing party, making SOL deadlines crucial for plaintiffs wishing to file a claim. The purpose of the statute of limitations is to protect the defendants in a case against unfair legal proceedings.

Statutes of limitations are enacted to:

  • Ensure the plaintiffs file their legal claims diligently, and to
  • Ensure the defendants are still able to procure evidence relevant to their defense.

Generally, the clock on the statute of limitations begins when the offense occurs, or when the plaintiff becomes aware of the offense. Below we’ll explain how statutes of limitations impact your ability to pursue a case.

Statute of Limitations in a Birth Injury Case

Many instances of birth injury, such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathycerebral palsy, and trauma from forceps and vacuum extractors, can be the result of medical malpractice. Because these cases are subject to a statute of limitations, it is important to understand how these laws pertain to your particular case.

Some factors that can impact the statute of limitations in a birth injury case are:

  • The state in which the birth occurred. Each state has its own legislation regarding SOLs in birth injury cases. This means that the time in which a case must be filed differs from state-to-state and is dependent on individual state laws. Because SOLs vary by state, it is important to become aware of your state’s statute of limitations as soon as possible, so that you can meet all required filing deadlines should you choose to pursue a case.
  • The hospital in which the birth occurred and/or the professionals responsible for the care. If a birth injury occurs in a military hospital,  in a federally or state funded hospital or clinic, or at the hands of a government employee, the case may follow a different statute of limitations.

It is important to become aware of these, and other, factors as soon as possible so that they do not hinder your ability to pursue a case. It is important to pursue a case as soon as possible in order to avoid the restrictions imposed by statutes of limitations. Some cases may have filing deadlines as early as six months from the time of malpractice, so contacting an attorney as soon as you believe you may have experienced malpractice (inappropriate medical care) is important to preserving your legal right to pursue a case before the time limit expires.

Confused About Your Statute of Limitations?

Some people struggle to understand their state’s statute of limitations due to confusing legal jargon. The law is complex, and statutes change often due to decisions made by legislators or by higher appellate courts.

If you have any questions regarding the statute of limitations in your pregnancy, neonatal, or birth injury case, it will help to contact a birth injury attorney for clarification. Many attorneys will be happy to explain SOLs to you free of any charge or obligation to pursue a case with them.

Do I Have a Birth Injury Case?

If you suspect that your child or loved one suffered medical negligence or malpractice, you may want to pursue legal action. The award-winning attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) focus exclusively on malpractice that occurs during pregnancy, birth, or the neonatal period. We can help to determine whether your case is still viable based on your state’s statute of limitations.

We also work closely with an in-house medical team, which enables them to delve deeper into complex medical issues. To find out if you have a case, please reach out for a free case review. We have numerous testimonials and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and you pay nothing unless we win your case.

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The above information is intended only to be general legal information and does not contain any legal advice. The law is complex and statutes change often; for legal advice please reach out to an attorney.