What is the Statute of Limitations If a Doctor Caused an Injury?



Unfortunately, there are times when a trusted doctor makes a mistake that causes serious or irreversible harm to a patient. If you or a loved one have been injured by a doctor or medical facility, you may be considering hiring a lawyer to file a lawsuit against your doctor so that others will not suffer similar injuries and so that you can be compensated for your injury.  However, it is important to keep in mind the legal deadlines that limit when you are able to file a lawsuit against a doctor.

The legal deadlines are called the “Statute of Limitations,” which are generally certain time frames within which a lawsuit can be filed against a doctor after an injury has occurred. The Statute of Limitations for injuries caused by doctors varies from state to state. In North Carolina, the Statute of Limitations for a medical malpractice lawsuit is three years from either: 1) the date the injury or wrongdoing occurred, or 2) the date the injury was or should have been discovered, but not more than four years from the date the injury or wrongdoing occurred.

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If you have been injured by what you consider to be a doctor’s mistake or negligence, you do not want to wait until the last minute to contact an attorney. A medical malpractice attorney in North Carolina usually needs at least 6 to 8 weeks to review your medical records to determine whether or not you have a potential claim against your doctor. Using a hypothetical situation, pretend you suffered an injury due to a doctor’s negligence from a surgery that occurred on January 1, 2005, and that you discovered the injury on the same day as the surgery. Now pretend that you do not contact a lawyer until December 31, 2007.

You are only one day away from the end of the three-year Statute of Limitations. It is highly likely that you are going to have a difficult time finding a lawyer to represent you because the lawyer will have only one day to decide whether or not you have a good case and to actually file the lawsuit.

Now let’s pretend that instead of contacting a lawyer on December 31, 2007, you contact a lawyer on January 2, 2008. This would be one day after the three year Statute of Limitations, and even if you had a multi-million dollar lawsuit, you would have no opportunity to pursue the lawsuit because the legal timeframe has passed.

The bottom line is that it is vital to your case to remember exact dates regarding the injury you suffered, and to contact a lawyer as soon as you realize you have been injured, so that you are not barred from filing a lawsuit simply because you let too much time lapse.