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How long do you have to file a medical malpractice case?

When a resident of Illinois is sick or injured, they expect that the doctors and nurses taking care of them will do so competently and appropriately. After all, most medical professionals have gone through years of schooling in order to get where they are. However, there is always the chance that something could go wrong.

While some complications cannot be helped, other complications could be due to medical malpractice. A misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical error or a delayed diagnosis could all lead to unnecessary pain and suffering and future medical treatments and costs to remedy the injuries the malpractice caused. All of these costs add up, and victims of medical malpractice may wonder if they have any legal remedies to cope with these costs and hold the negligent party responsible. However, did you know that there is only a limited time in which you can file a medical malpractice suit? This is known as the "statute of limitations." If you fail to bring your case within the statute of limitations, you are barred from ever doing so in the future, even if your claim is a valid one.

In Illinois specifically, generally a medical malpractice case needs to be filed within two years of when the victim learned (or should have learned) of the injury. However, any medical malpractice case in Illinois cannot commence more than four years from which the act that constituted malpractice took place, even if the victim was unaware that the act of malpractice took place. That being said, the statute of limitations for minors in medical malpractice cases may be longer.

While this may seem limiting, the court may consider certain factors if the victim was in some way prevented from taking action, such as if the defendant committed fraud or if the victim had a disability that prevented him or her from filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Those who need more information as to whether they are still able to bring a medical malpractice case may want to seek the opinion of a personal injury attorney who can explain how the law applies to the facts of their specific case.

Source: FindLaw, "Illinois Medical Malpractice: Statute of Limitations," accessed Sept. 26, 2016

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