Medical malpractice is a type of civil claim you may have if a health care provider, such as a doctor or hospital, failed to fulfill the medical standards of care while providing treatment, resulting in an injury or illness.
Medical malpractice is a complicated area of personal injury law, with many statutes specifically related to this type of lawsuit. If you wish to file a medical malpractice claim in Nevada, you need to understand these laws – starting with the statute of limitations.
What Is the Time Limit on Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Nevada?
In Nevada, the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice claim is one year from the date the patient discovered, or should have discovered the injury, or three years from the date the health care provider inflicted the injury, whichever is sooner. This statute of limitations applies to any case arising from an act of malpractice occurring after 2002.
To calculate your statute of limitations, you would add one year from the time you noticed, or should have noticed, your injury. If it is an injury that was not noticeable, then you may be able to add three years from the date the malpractice occurred. But, you should always try to obey the shorter deadline.
It is important to note that filing a medical malpractice claim in Nevada does not only refer to filing the paperwork in the civil court to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. It also refers to filing something called an affidavit of merit. This is a legal document with a signature from a qualified and relevant medical expert stating that the expert has reviewed and supports the allegations in the filing party’s complaint.
In other words, when you file a complaint in court to start a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must attach an affidavit from a medical expert outlining the malpractice that occurred. Failure to attach the affidavit can, and likely will, result in dismissal of your case.
What Is the Purpose of the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is one of the most critical laws to know. If you miss your statute of limitations, the courts will most likely bar you from recovery. The statute of limitations is in place to keep the justice system just. It prevents an injured party (plaintiff) from waiting as long as he or she wants to file a claim – something that could be unfair to the defendant, as the plaintiff could wait until important evidence in the defendant’s defense has been destroyed to come forward.
Rather than allowing the threat of a lawsuit to hang over a defendant’s head indefinitely, each state uses statutes of limitations to create deadlines for filing. These time limits change from state to state. They are also different depending on the type of claim you wish to file in Nevada. With only a few rare exceptions, the courts strictly uphold Nevada’s medical malpractice statute of limitations.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Rule?
The main exception to Nevada’s statute of limitations is if the medical malpractice inflicted brain damage or a birth defect on a child. In these scenarios, the child’s family would have until the child’s 10th birthday to file a medical malpractice claim. This is to allow the family time to fully recognize and understand the extent of the child’s injuries before bringing a lawsuit.
The courts may also toll, or extend, the statute of limitations in extenuating circumstances, such as if there is an ongoing criminal case against the defendant at the same time. Or, more recently, Nevada tolled statutes of limitations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Immediately
Typically, if you try to file a medical malpractice claim after your deadline is passed, the courts will refuse to hear your case. Even if the courts do not dismiss your case outright, the doctor or facility you are trying to hold accountable will file a motion asking for the case to be dismissed. This will almost certainly end your lawsuit and take away your right to hold the health care provider accountable – even if you have proof of a harmful medical error. This is why it is so important to file your claim by the deadline.
Contact an attorney as soon as possible after discovering medical malpractice in Las Vegas to make sure you file by your statute of limitations.