Medical Malpractice in Washington
Statute of Limitations: 3 Years (8 year statute of repose)
Discovery: 1 Year from Discovery
Liability Rules: Pure Comparative Negligence
What You Should Know
Medical Malpractice cases are for patients who have been misdiagnosed, harmed before, during or after any medical procedure, or injured due to lack of treatment. Each state has their own set of laws and practices. We’ve outlined, generally, what you need to know in the case of filing a medical malpractice claim in the state of Washington.
Statute of Limitations
A Statute of Limitations is the deadline or time period in which you have to file a medical malpractice case. In Washington, a patient has three years to file a claim from the point in which the incident occurred or one year from the date in which they discovered, or should have reasonably discovered, that they were injured or experiencing pain due to an act of omission or negligence by their physician or healthcare provider.
Here is what must first be established or able to be proven in order to file a claim:
- The physician or health care provider owed the given patient any ‘duty’. For example, further treatment, alternate care, guidance, etc.
- The standard of care for the given illness or ailment failed to be met. Each surgery or treatment has a set of conditions, or standards, that must be met in order to be considered acceptable, or at the most basic level, complete.
- There is a compensable injury. Unfortunately not all injuries are compensable. A worst case scenario for medical malpractice is fatality. However, if there are reconcilable damage to the patient that can be rectified to some degree, that will help in filing a claim.
- Lastly, not only does it have to be proven that the standard of care was breached, but also that it was the cause of harm or damage to the patient. For example, if indeed a doctor did neglect the standard of care for a given treatment, but that was not the cause of harm or injury to the patient, it may not be enough to open a case.
Statute of Repose
A ‘statute of repose’ is a statute in which an exception or numbers of exceptions overrule the statute of limitations. In Washington, the statute of repose states that a medical malpractice claim must be brought to court no later than eight years from the date of the incident occurring. This repose is only applied in certain situations. For example, a major exception would be a case in which a foreign objects comes into play. A foreign object is any medical tool or object that was erroneously left inside of a patient’s body during treatment or surgery, thus causing disease, pain, injury and more. When this is the case, the patient follows the one year rule and must file within 12 months from the date in which the object was discovered.
The state of Washington requires parties to a medical malpractice case to participate in mandatory mediation to attempt to settle the case out of court. The outcome of the mediation does not effect the right to a jury trial, and it “tolls,” or pauses, the statute of limitations for up to one year. Mediation can sometimes produce favorable outcomes and is required by law as part of the process of filing medical malpractice lawsuits in Washington.
Without proper attention and support, a medical malpractice case in Washington may be very difficult to manage without experienced guidance and knowledge. For medical malpractice cases, it is best to hire a professional attorney. At Buckingham Barrera Law, we offer the highest care and service. If you find yourself dealing with neglectful physicians or healthcare providers, give us a call us for a free consultation.
How Can We Help You?
If you or a loved one have been injured in the state of Washington, contact us at 432.570.1919 or email us using the form below for your free, no-obligation consultation. The Buckingham Barrera Law Firm has helped thousands of people in multiple states get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.