We have all entrusted our health and well-being to a medical professional at some point in our lives. While some of us are able to walk away with appreciation and respect for our caregivers, many more are left facing egregious injuries that are often preventable, affecting not only the life of the patient but his or her family as well. You might be eligible for compensation if you or a loved one sustained injuries due to a medical error. However, it is crucial that you act as soon as you are aware of the error since there is a statute of limitations that sets a timeframe during which you must file your claim.
If the statute of limitations passes before you file your initial complaint against the doctor, hospital, or another healthcare provider in the civil court system, you will lose your chance to obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve. Every state has its own statute, making it crucial to understand your own state’s laws should you pursue a medical malpractice claim.
Missouri Statute of Limitations
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in the state’s civil court system is two years, beginning on the date of the injury. It is important to note that this rule is not entirely absolute, and some exceptions exist to the two-year statute.
For children, Missouri has a ten-year statute of limitations, beginning on the date of the injury or two years from their eighteenth birthday, whichever is later, to bring the medical malpractice claim to court.
Missouri state law also requires an affidavit of merit to be filed with the court within 90 days of filing a medical malpractice complaint as a way to prove negligence occurred. It must state that a qualified expert was consulted regarding your case and that he or she agreed that your healthcare provider was negligent in a way that resulted in your injuries. In cases with more than one defendant, separate affidavits must be filed for each, detailing their roles in causing your injuries.
The affidavit of merit must be signed by you or your attorney and should include the name, address, and qualifications of the medical witness. Without this information, the case will be dismissed.
In addition to the affidavit requirement, Missouri also requires expert testimony to be provided at trial to corroborate your claim that the care you received fell below the accepted medical standard of care. An article or treatise written by an expert cannot serve as a substitute for this testimony.
Exceptions to the Missouri Medical Malpractice Statute
There is a high likelihood that patients make a delayed discovery of the injury or are unaware of the injury. The state of Missouri offers numerous exceptions to the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations to allow such patients the opportunity to file a claim after the initial two years due to possible ignorance of the provider’s negligence.
- Presence of a foreign object inside the patient’s body: The statute of limitations would begin two years from the date of the object’s discovery or from when the patient should have discovered the alleged negligence through ordinary care, whichever comes first. For example, the medical professional left a sponge inside the patient during surgery. The statute of limitations would begin once the patient discovered the sponge, even if the pain did not start until two years after the initial surgery. Once the patient sees a doctor for imaging that reveals the presence of the sponge, they would have to bring a lawsuit within two years of that discovery date.
- Failure to inform the patient of medical test results: The statute of limitations begins two years from the date of discovery of alleged negligence or from when the patient should have discovered the alleged negligence through ordinary care, whichever comes first. This exception is not infinite, as the medical malpractice statute explicitly states that no claim or lawsuit can be brought for test results more than two years prior to August 28, 1999.
- The medical malpractice claim is for a person under the age of 18: Minors have until his or her 20th birthday to file a medical malpractice claim.
- The case resulted in death: According to Missouri’s Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death, an advocate for the individual has three years from the patient’s death to file a medical malpractice claim.
There are other existing exceptions, so if you are unsure, an experienced attorney can evaluate your case to determine if any additional Missouri medical malpractice laws apply.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
While there is a wide range of events that may occur resulting in medical malpractice, there are some common types patients may encounter. These include:
- Delayed diagnosis
- Failure to diagnose
- Emergency department lapses
- Medication errors
- Surgical errors
- Incorrect treatment
- Birth injuries
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Dental mistakes
These types of medical malpractice could occur due to the medical professional’s inexperience with a certain procedure, exhaustion due to long hours, mixed-up patient files, or simply general negligence on their part. One of the best ways to help prevent being a victim of medical malpractice is to find out if your doctor has previous malpractice history, as it can offer a glimpse into the level of care they provide to their patients.
Experienced St. Louis Medical Malpractice Attorneys
When physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals fail to uphold the standard of care, patients get hurt. Many of these injuries have long-term consequences that can alter a person’s life forever. If you believe you sustained injuries due to a medical professional’s negligent or substandard care, you have a right to pursue compensation.
At The Simon Law Firm, P.C., our St. Louis medical malpractice attorneys recognize that the consequences of a medical mistake can cause a vast amount of hardship for our clients and their families. That is why we dedicate countless hours to reviewing medical records, researching literature, and speaking with medical experts about potential claims. You should not have to suffer in silence. Let us be your legal advocate and ensure your voice is heard and justice is served.
Contact our office today at 314-241-2929 to schedule your free consultation.