It may seem obvious that if you are wronged by your medical doctor or caretaker that you have the right to file a lawsuit to receive just compensation. To many, it would only make sense that no matter when a problem occurs or how long it takes for you to take a stand on it, your rights should be respected and served. Unfortunately, there is a ticking time clock in many states on when your lawsuit would be invalid.
According to the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas, the case must be “filed within two years from the occurrence of the breach or tort or from the date the medical or health care treatment that is the subject of the claim or the hospitalization for which the claim is made is completed.” In other words, you have two years upon learning of the suffering or injury due to malpractice to file. If the injury or harm is part of an ongoing treatment, the two year time-clock begins upon conclusion of the treatment.
In New Mexico, a person has three years after the date of malpractice to file a claim, unless dealing with a minor under the age of six. If a minor under the age of six is in need to file a medical malpractice case, they have until their ninth birthday to file. For example, if a mother is harmed or injured while giving birth, she is qualified to file a malpractice case on behalf of her newborn child for up to nine years.
A statute of limitations is established on the belief that a plaintiff should not be allowed to wait a deemed unreasonable amount of time before presenting their case. While this was most likely created to provide some standards of practice, in Texas there is also a 10-year limit on when a file can be claimed, even if treatment continues after.
In the event that a foreign object is left inside a person post-surgery, many states have statutes that alter the time limitations for a case to be filed. Rightfully so! However, in Texas this is not the case. When a surgeon leaves something inside of a patient’s body, such as a swab or even worse, scissors, the patient has the same time limit on when they can file a case, regardless of when they find out about the foreign object. For example, under the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas, a person may have surgery in January of 2000 and not find out about the needle that was left inside of their body until March of 2010. Since it exceeds the 10-year time limit, the patient is unable to file their lawsuit. New Mexico does not offer extended time parameters for discovering foreign objects. They still rely on the three year time limit.
If you find yourself dealing with a medical malpractice case in the state of Texas or New Mexico, be sure to know the parameters of filing a lawsuit. It is always best to act immediately. However, the problem isn’t always known in a timely manner. Be sure to track your surgery or medical treatment from start to finish and long after. If there are any discrepancies on the treatment that was provided, it is best to take care of it sooner rather than later. Many patients try to brush off any additional care or attention they may need, when it is best to treat it all efficiently and correctly.
In conclusion, whenever surgery or treatment is necessary, be sure to document the experience step-by-step from initial consultation all the way throughout recovery. In any instance where you feel there is a conflict or inconsistency in either the procedure or recovery phase, be sure to consult your doctor and/or an attorney if you believe to have been involved in a medical malpractice situation. Know the laws and know your rights.