Statutes of Limitations and the Discovery Rule

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to wrongful death, the last thing you may want to think about is how your legal rights are affected. The law surrounding wrongful death, however, allows legal action to be taken only for a limited period of time. When this period has elapsed, you will no longer have the option of filing a lawsuit. A personal injury attorney from  our firm can answer your questions about how much time you have to take action.

What is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that restricts the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. It helps to ensure that the legal process moves forward and that evidence is still available and fresh in the minds of witnesses. When the statute of limitations has run, there is no longer an entitlement to take legal action on a matter. This gives a serious responsibility to people who may wish to file a lawsuit.

What is the discovery rule?

The discovery rule can affect when the statute of limitations begins to run. In some cases, an injury that caused a wrongful death was not apparent when it first occurred; this is usually due to the nature of the injury itself. The statute of limitations will begin, then, at the time the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.

Consider a statute of limitations that is, for instance, two years long. Normally, the clock would start ticking as soon as the injury occurred. But if the injury is reasonably discovered one year after it occurs, the two-year period begins on the day of discovery.

Not every state applies the discovery rule in the same way. How it is used also depends on the injury and other circumstances.

How do the statute of limitations and the discovery rule affect wrongful death actions?

For most wrongful death cases, a state’s wrongful death statute sets out a simple time limit for taking legal action. The matter is more complicated, however, when it comes to injuries that call the discovery rule into play.

Sometimes, when a loved one suffers an injury, the injury may not become known for months or years after it occurs — perhaps not until it causes death. Other times, the cause of a wrongful death itself is not reasonably discovered until months or years later.

If an injury directly contributed to a death, the statute of limitations may begin at the time of injury or at the time of reasonable discovery. This could mean that the statute of limitations starts to run — and may even run out — before the death. This can occur, in particular, in products liability cases involving injuries caused by defective or dangerous products.

Speak to a personal injury lawyer

Although the statute of limitations and the discovery rule may appear to complicate the legal process, the important thing to keep in mind is that there are time limits on when you may take legal action. Contact  our office today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney who can tell you when the statute of limitations expires and what your rights are right now.

Patient Safety: Protecting Against Medical Mistakes

Patient safety is especially important in the summer. July is the most dangerous month for patients at teaching hospitals across the country, according to a study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Teaching hospitals see a 10% increase in fatalities over the month of July, which is attributed to the inexperience of new medical residents who traditionally begin training in July. Many are likely caused by medical mistakes.

According to the Institute of Medicine, medical mistakes cause nearly 100,000 deaths and at least half a million injuries each year. In a federal study of hospital patients in one year, one in seven patients was harmed by medical mistakes, with effects ranging from a prolonged hospital stay to permanent injury or death. Some of the most common mistakes involve avoidable infections, incorrect drugs or drug dosage, surgical errors, and miscommunication between medical staff. Hospital-acquired infections alone affect as many as two million people per year, killing perhaps tens of thousands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Steps to Protect Against Medical Mistakes

Patients may feel powerless to protect themselves against the risk of random mistakes in medical facilities. But, patients can take a variety of preventive measures to reduce the risk of falling victim to medical error.

To protect against infection, you should research hospital infection rates. Ask if your doctor knows the hospital’s “options’ infection rate.” An options’ infection rate uses “catheter days” to measure the infection rate of a hospital. A catheter day is a 24-hour time period in which a tube is inserted into a patient’s blood vessels. The best rate is zero in 1,000 catheter days for one year or more. A patient should be concerned if the rate is three or higher.

Research doctor records and certifications on the specific procedure you need. Nobody wants to be a doctor’s first patient for a difficult operation.

Generally, avoiding operations on Friday and weekends can help decrease the odds of a mistake. Medical staff members, like other workers, are more likely to be fatigued and error-prone late on a Friday evening after a long week. Similarly, a morning slot is usually better than an afternoon appointment.

Other steps include choosing a hospital that uses electronic records, thus avoiding the risks posed by illegible hand-written communications. If possible, keep track of your own prescriptions and dosages. Incorrect medication or dosage is a leading medical error. Ask friends and family members to accompany you for moral support and as an additional safety-check.

It’s important to be assertive about your medical treatment. Medical mistakes are avoidable. When a mistake causes injury, negligence on the part of medical staff or the hospital may constitute medical malpractice. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney for legal advice on possible claims and to discuss obtaining full compensation for injuries caused by medical malpractice.

Wrong Site Surgery Lawyers

Dedicated Help for Victims of Medical Malpractice

We rely on medical professionals to help take care of our ailments, not make our situation worse. When surgeons operate on the wrong body part or on the wrong side of the body, the results can be disastrous. At our law firm the wrong site surgery attorneys provide dedicated legal help for the victims of medical malpractice. We can help you get the full and fair compensation that you need in order to move forward with your life.

We Handle All Types of Surgical Error Claims

Our  surgical error attorneys handle all types of medical malpractice claims that arise from surgeries being performed on the wrong side of the body or the wrong body part, including those involving:

Surgery on the wrong arm, leg, hand or foot

Amputation of the wrong limb

Surgery on the wrong kidney or other body part

An operation on the wrong part of the body can result in catastrophic injuries. For example, removal of a healthy kidney may leave a patient with one non-functioning kidney, a problem that will still have to be addressed and may result in a lifetime of dialysis care. These types of mistakes are unacceptable. That is why our lawyers will work closely with medical experts and other professionals to help paint a complete picture of your damages. We will work hard to help you get the maximum compensation you need and deserve.