The statute of limitations is the time limit for filing a lawsuit. Most civil and criminal actions have a time limit.
Medical malpractice has several statutes of limitations because the time limit depends on the situation.
The basic statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is two years from the time of the incident. However, if you are not aware of the malpractice right away, the timer will not begin until you become aware. But the state still puts an ultimate limit on the situation at four years from the occurrence date regardless of when you found out. For example, if you did not discover the injury until three years after it happened, then you only have one year to file a claim.
The law is different for those who are under the age of 18. The statute of limitations will begin once the person turns 18. But the state also puts a cap on the time, requiring all lawsuits to occur before the person turns 22.
If a person suffers a disability that incapacitates him or her and prevents bringing a lawsuit, the statute of limitations will pause until the person is once again competent and able to bring the lawsuit. The general time limit of two years applies in this situation, but because the person cannot legally bring a claim to court due to the disability, the pause becomes effective to allow for fairness. Once the disability is gone, the timer starts running again.
Knowing the statute of limitations is essential because if you bring a lawsuit after it expires, the court will throw out your claim.