When does the statute of limitations on a Virginia medical malpractice claim start ticking? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Any Virginia medical malpractice attorney will tell you that statute of limitations questions do not always have simple answers. As a matter of law, victims of medical malpractice have two years to file a claim. The clock starts ticking on either the day a negligent or reckless act harmed the patient, or on the day that the harm caused by a health care provider or medical provider caused harm.

Harm to a patient can be immediately obvious. Operating on the wrong person or body part, for instance, is hard to miss. But sponges or surgical implements left inside a patient may remain undetected for years while the person undergoes treatment for symptoms but receives no accurate diagnosis of the actual problem.

Similarly, birth injuries may not produce recognizable symptoms until a child is older than 24 months, and a misdiagnosis of cancer may not be evident until an autopsy is performed.

Consulting with a malpractice lawyer will help a patient or family understand whether their claim can proceed without getting dismissed for being outside the statute of limitations. Enlisting the help of an attorney will also make sense because one of the first arguments a health care provider or medical facility will make is that the victim missed the legal window for filing a claim.