Health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and chiropractors, are required to treat patients at a standard level of care. Providing or failing to provide a service that a prudent and careful professional would or would not have in similar circumstances is medical malpractice. Negligence, errors, or mistakes when treating a patient can lead to significant harm, including untreated diseases, disfigurement, and infections.
The patient may need additional treatment or surgeries to correct the mistake, resulting in greater expenses and losses. However, because a medical professional’s negligence caused the damages, the injured party can seek compensation from the health care provider to cover the costs.
It’s crucial to file a medical malpractice lawsuit as soon as possible. In Missouri, individuals have only a certain amount of time to pursue legal action. Missing the deadline could mean the loss of the right to obtain financial recovery.
The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Missouri
Missouri Revised Statutes § 516.105 establishes the time limit for victims to pursue medical malpractice lawsuits. Generally, victims have a 2-year deadline. However, when the clock starts ticking depends on the situation.
For some medical malpractice claims, the deadline is 2 years from when the negligent act occurred. However, two situations exist when the 2-year time limit begins on the date of discovery or the date a “patient in the exercise of ordinary care should have discovered” the error.
These situations include the following:
- The negligent act involved “introducing and negligently permitting” a foreign object – such as a surgical instrument – to remain in the body, or
- The negligent act was a failure to inform the patient of test results.
For persons under 18 years of age, the statute of limitations is slightly different. In these cases, the injured party (or a representative working on their behalf) may file a lawsuit no later than their 20th birthday.
The law also states that no medical malpractice claim – regardless of the negligent act – can be brought more than 10 years after the date of the error. The 10-year time limit doesn’t apply in cases involving minors. Victims under 18 years of age have only until 2 years after they turn 18 to commence an action.
Knowing the deadline for a particular case is important because the date could affect the victim’s ability to seek and receive compensation. The court may dismiss a lawsuit filed after the statute of limitations has passed.
The Affidavit Requirement for Medical Malpractice Claims
The statute of limitations is not the only law that could impact a medical malpractice lawsuit. Missouri also provides that those bringing an action must include an affidavit by a legally qualified health care provider (Missouri Revised Statutes § 538.225).
In the affidavit, the health care provider must state that the defendant:
- Did not provide the standard of care a “reasonably prudent and careful health care provider would have under similar circumstances,” and
- The defendant’s failure caused or contributed to the plaintiff's injury.
The affidavit must be submitted within 90 days of filing the lawsuit. If the plaintiff does not include it, the court could dismiss their case.
Having a Lawyer Help with a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Medical malpractice cases can be highly complicated. Not only are there filing deadlines and supporting document requirements that must be met, but the plaintiff must back their claims by providing evidence and building compelling arguments. This requires a substantial amount of legwork and can be overwhelming.
Injured parties have the right to have a personal injury attorney assist with their cases. A lawyer can review medical records, consult experts, and ensure that all procedural requirements are followed. With an attorney taking care of the legal details of the case, the injured party can focus on their healing.
Schedule a Consultation with Our Firm
At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., we recognize the challenges medical malpractice victims can face when pursuing just compensation. That is why we provide dedicated and experienced legal representation through every stage of their cases.
To discuss your situation with one of our Kansas City lawyers, please call us at (888) 398-2277 or contact us online today.