The “Discovery Rule” is not an element of law that most people are familiar with until they become unexpectedly involved in a medical malpractice case. The Discovery Rule holds immense power over legal proceedings, because it determines timelines and correlates to statute of limitations. If you are entering into a medical malpractice case, it is essential to understand how the Discovery Rule could make or break your case.
The Discovery Rule Alters the Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice
The majority of crimes committed in our country must be heard in court within a certain number of years. This is known as the statute of limitations. It firmly dictates the time limit within which a victim can file a lawsuit in response to a crime.
If the victim does not file within the statute of limitations time frame, he loses his right to a legal remedy for any wrongdoing that occurred. In Florida specifically, personal injury and property damage both have a statute of limitations of four years.
The Discovery Rule was implemented to ensure that medical malpractice cases do not abide by standard statute of limitations timeframes. Since medical malpractice can occur without being noticed for months or even years, a standard four-year statute of limitations would bar the majority of victims from ever pursuing legal action against their doctors. Now, many states like Florida use the Discovery Rule to protect patients in this situation. It states that the statute of limitations begins as soon as a patient discovers symptoms indicating a bigger problem.
The Discovery Rule in Action
The Discovery Rule can become relevant in many different ways. This example demonstrates just one potential application. If a patient has an operation June 1, 2010 and does not realize that her doctor accidentally left a piece of medical equipment inside her body, the statute of limitations does not begin on June 1. Instead, it begins on January 4, 2014, the day that she began having sharp pains and underwent X-ray tests that identified the piece of equipment in her body.
However, the Discovery Rule is rarely that simplistic. There are many other nuances and requirements that only a medical malpractice attorney fully understands. This is exactly why it is so important to turn to legal professionals who can prove their successful track record with medical malpractice cases.
Call 1-800-253-5523 to find out how the team at Catania and Catania in Tampa, Florida can help you use the Discovery Rule to seek the malpractice compensation you deserve.