Medical Malpractice Case Dismissed For Failing to Comply With Massachusetts Statute of Limitations

If you believe that you or someone in your family has been hurt by the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider, you probably have several questions. “How do I file a claim?” “How do I prove my case?” “If I win, how much will the judgment be?”

Another important question – sometimes overlooked by those who are not familiar with the civil justice system – is, “How long do I have to file a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit?” Generally speaking, the answer to this question is “three years.” However, calculating the exact date that a claim becomes time-barred can sometimes be difficult. This is because determining the date that the claim begins to run (and the three-year clock begins to tick) is not always simple.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case, the plaintiff was a man who claimed that he suffered an injury to his urethra due to a nurse’s negligent catheterization of him when he was a patient at the defendant hospital in October 2009. The plaintiff was reportedly told that he might urinate blood for a short while but that the bleeding would stop soon. The plaintiff not only had bloody discharge in his urine, but also he experienced painful urination that lasted for several years. However, he did not return to the defendant hospital for further medical treatment until June 2012. According to the plaintiff, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a phobia that made him fearful of seeking medical attention.

When he presented to the defendant hospital for further treatment, his belief was that his medical issues were caused by a sexually transmitted disease; however, all of his STD tests came back negative. Finally, in September 2015, the plaintiff consulted with a different medical provider after concluding that his continued medical problems were caused by the 2009 catheterization procedure. He filed his medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in October 2016, some seven years after the allegedly negligent catheterization procedure and more than four years after he first sought medical treatment for his injuries. The defendant moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim on the ground that it was barred by the three-year statute of limitations for such actions set forth by Massachusetts law. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Court’s Decision on Appeal

Reviewing the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim de novo, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals affirmed. A claim for medical negligence accrues (and the statute of limitations begins to run) when the plaintiff learns, or reasonably should learn, that he or she has been harmed by a particular medical provider. Based on the plaintiff’s complaint, the court found that the defendant was on notice of his claim soon after he was discharged from the hospital. At the latest, his claim accrued in June 2012. Since he did not file suit until October 2016, the court of appeals agreed with the lower tribunal that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was barred by the three-year statute of limitations.

Hire an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you even suspect that you or a family member has been hurt by a doctor, nurse, or hospital, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Massachusetts medical negligence lawyer, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, today at 888-262-6664.

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