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Can I Sue for Medical Malpractice in Washington Years Later?
Posted in Medical Malpractice on October 31, 2023
When you place your trust in the hands of medical professionals, you expect to receive care that promotes healing, not harm. However, medical professionals can commit serious errors, leading to serious injuries and harmful complications. In some cases, these complications can surface years later, raising an important question: can you sue for medical malpractice in Washington years later?
The answer depends on the circumstances surrounding your case. Washington State offers several guidelines on when and how a victim can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, and if you plan on filing a lawsuit, it is important to be aware of these rules.
The Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations Is Three Years
According to the Revised Code of Washington section 4.16.350, you must file a medical malpractice lawsuit within three years after the underlying malpractice was committed. If you did not discover the injury until a later date, you must file within one year from the date that you discovered—or should have discovered—that you were a victim of medical malpractice.
Additionally, there is an overarching deadline known as the statute of repose. According to this rule, all medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within eight years after the medical malpractice occurred. Once eight years have passed, you cannot file a legal claim even if you did not and could not know that you were harmed by a negligent medical professional.
There Are Exceptions to Washington’s Statute of Limitations
Certain situations can pause or toll the statute of limitations. For instance, if you find a foreign object in your body after a medical procedure, or if the medical provider tried to hide the mistake or committed fraud, the clock is reset. You then get an additional year from the time of discovery to initiate the lawsuit, even if this period extends beyond the eight-year statute of repose.
Additionally, if the injured person is so impaired that he or she cannot understand the legal proceedings, the statute is tolled. Furthermore, if both parties involved express a genuine intention in writing for mediation before any lawsuit is filed, an extra year is granted to allow time for mediation.
What Happens If You File Your Claim After the Deadline Passes?
If you file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations passes, there are certain consequences. Unless your case qualifies under one of the exceptions listed above, the court will very likely dismiss your lawsuit and prevent you from recovering compensation.
Medical malpractice can lead to a host of complications and damages, from additional medical expenses to pain and suffering. Three years may seem like a long time, but it can pass by very quickly while you are recovering from an injury or illness. To protect your financial recovery and help prevent future hardship, it is very important to initiate your lawsuit as soon as possible.
Speak to a Seattle Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
Experiencing harm from a trusted medical professional can be deeply unsettling. Amidst this turmoil, understanding and navigating the legal intricacies can be daunting. In these situations, a Seattle medical malpractice attorney can help you determine your filing deadline, assess your legal options, and take your first steps toward recovery. Contact a lawyer at Colburn Law as soon as possible to learn more about the legal process.