Is there a time limit to file a medical malpractice claim in Virginia?

Many people who have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in DC would rather focus on healing than assigning blame. Weeks, months or even years may pass before a patient realizes he is a victim of malpractice-and when he does, it may be too late to seek compensation.

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Every state has a set time limit on filing malpractice suits, also called the Statute of Limitations. These limitations usually start on the date of injury-such as the day you had surgery, or the day of the appointment when you were misdiagnosed.

In the DC area, there are several different time limits depending on your location. For example, if you live in:

  • Virginia: You have two years from the date of injury to file a medical malpractice claim.
  • Washington, DC: Patients in DC have three years from the date of injury to file their claim.
  • Maryland: You have up to five years before bringing a suit against your caregiver.

If you file a claim past the statute of limitations, it may be denied. However, there are exceptions. Certain special cases may extend your time limit in Virginia, such as if your discovery of the malpractice happened some time after the injury.

Some special circumstances that could extend the time limit on your Virginia malpractice suit are:

  • Retained surgical objects. Foreign objects left in the body are usually only discovered when a patient suffers painful symptoms after surgery. Since this can take weeks, the statute of limitations is extended up to one year.
  • Misdiagnosis. Depending on the specifics of your case, the time limit may be extended from the date you were misdiagnosed to the date the mistake was discovered.
  • Minor patients. Since children heal differently than adults, the time necessary to discover the extent of damage can lengthen the amount of time a parent can file a suit.
  • Disability. If the patient is suffering from a disability, is in a coma, or is similarly incapacitated, the deadline may be extended.

Since the limit when filing your suit depends heavily on the details of your injury, the advice of an experienced Fairfax medical malpractice attorney can be invaluable. Call Shevlin Smith today at (703) 591-0067 for a free consultation on your Virginia medical malpractice case.

Michael J. Shevlin
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Specializing in medical malpractice and serious personal injury cases since 1994.