Healthcare professionals are taught how to safely take care of patients and how to avoid being on the wrong end of a malpractice lawsuit. However, no matter how diligent we are sometimes things happen, from our own fault or by the nature of unpredictably that can come with every patient we take care of under anesthesia.
Ask any clinician and they can tell you about a time where something went wrong and they momentarily thought of will this come back to haunt me. Time passes on nothing ever comes of it, but what many of us don’t think about, or know, is it could be years before a legal action could occur.
My good friend was served with a lawsuit 3 years to the day of the adverse event they were involved in. They hadn’t thought about it in years, however the statute of limitations for the state we worked in was three years and the plaintiff’s lawyer delivered it on the very last day it was still legal.
It’s not going to change how you practice anesthesia, but it doesn’t hurt to know what your state’s malpractice statute of limitations are and the difference between adults and pediatrics. Some states the time limit is 2 years while others allow pediatrics until their 18 birthday to file a lawsuit.
To find out what the statute of limitations for your state is, check out the list below.
But before you do, we are anesthesia clinicians and not lawyers. We included summaries or information of each state’s statutes that we felt were relevant for this list and of importance for you. To read the full disclaimer you can find it at the bottom of the article.
|Alabama Code §6.5.482
|Within two years after the act or six months from discovery. Minors under 4 have until their 8th birthday.
|Alaska Stat. §09.10.070 and §09.10.140
|Two years from discovery of injury. A minor can file a claim if he or she is injured by medical malpractice up to two years and one day after thier 18th birthday.
|Arizona Rev. Stat. Ann. §12-542 and §12-502
|A legal malpractice action must be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues. Under 18 years old the two year time limit is paused.
|Arkansas Stat. Ann. §16-114-203
|Within two years of the date of the injury. If an individual is 9 years of age or younger at the time of the act, omission, or failure complained of, the minor or person claiming on behalf of the minor shall have until the later of the minor's eleventh birthday or two years from the act, omission, or failure in which to commence an action. However, if no medical injury is known and could not reasonably have been discovered prior to the minor's eleventh birthday, then the minor or his representative shall have until two (2) years after the medical injury is known or reasonably could have been discovered, or until the minor's nineteenth birthday, whichever is earlier, in which to commence an action.
|California Civil Procedure Code §340.5
|Three years after injury or one year after discovery, whichever is first. Minor under age 6: three years or before age 8, whichever is longer.
|Colorado Rev. Stat. §13-80-102.5
|Two years from the date of injury. Minor under 6 years of age by their 8th birthday.
|Connecticut Gen. Stat. §52-584
|Two years from date of injury, but no later than three years of the act or omission.
|Delaware Code Ann. tit. 18, §656
|A person has two years from the date of the act or omission. Minor two years or until age of 6 whichever is later.
|District of Columbia Code Ann. §12-301 and §12-302
|Three years from act. Under 18 years old the two year time limit is paused until 18th birthday.
|Florida Stat. §95.11
|Two years from injury or discovery, but no more than 4 years from injury. If fraud, concealment of injury or intentional misrepresentation prevented discovery within the four-year period, there is a two year additional extension from discovery, not to exceed seven years after the act.
|Georgia Code §9-3-70 et seq.
|Within two years after the date on which an injury or death occurred, in no event may an action for medical malpractice be brought more than five years after the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.
|Hawaii Rev. Stat. §657-7.3
|Within two years after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, but not to exceed more than six years after the date of the alleged act or omission causing the injury or death. Actions by a minor shall be commenced within six years from the date of the alleged wrongful act except the actions by a minor under the age of 10 years shall be commenced within six years or by the minor's 10h birthday, whichever provides a longer period.
|Idaho Code §5-219
|Two years from injury.
|Illinois Rev. Stat. ch. 735, §5/13-212 and §5/13-215
|Two years from discovery but not more than four years from act. Minors: Eight years after act but not after age 22.
|Indiana Code §34-18-7-1 et seq.
|Within two years from act. Minors under 6 have until their 8th birthday.
|Iowa Code §614.1
|Two years from reasonable discovery but not more than six years from act. Minors under the age of 8 have until their 10th birthday.
|Kansas Stat. Ann. §60-513 and §60-515
|The two-year window may begin when the injury is discovered. However, a claim can never be brought more than four years after the negligent act that caused the injury. Minors under age 18: within one year after the person reaches majority, no such action shall be commenced more than eight years after the time of the act giving rise to the cause of action.*
|Kentucky Rev. Stat. §413.140 and §413.170
|One year from date of injury or from the date when the cause of action was, or reasonably should have been, discovered by the party injured. Minors the one year time limit does not start ticking until turning 18 years old.
|Louisiana Rev. Stat. Ann. §9:5628
|One year from act or date of discovery, but no later than three years from date of injury.
|Maine Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, §2902
|Within three years of injury. Minors: six years from injury or within 3 years of turning 18 years old.
|Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code Ann. §5-109
|Five years from act or three years from discovery. Minors under 11, the time limitation begins when they turn 11.
|Massachusetts Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, §4 and ch. 231, §60D
|Shall be commenced only within three years after the cause of action accrues. Minors under the age of 6 have until 9th birthday to bring a lawsuit.
|Michigan Comp. Laws §600.5805, §600.5838a and §600.5851
|Within two years of injury or within 6 months of reasonable discovery. Children under 8 years old may file within two years of the incident or by the child’s 10th birthday — whichever time period is longer.
|Minnesota Code Ann. §15-1-36
|Within two years of the day the malpractice occurred. Minor: Under 6 years old at the time of the incident may file a lawsuit within two years of the patient’s 6th birthday.
|Missouri Rev. Stat. §516.105
|Two years from the act. Minors: Ten years from the date of injury or two years from their 18th birthday to bring a medical malpractice claim, whichever is later.
|Montana. Code Ann. §27-2-205
|Three years from injury. Minor who was under the age of 4 on the date of the minor's injury, the period of limitations in subsection (1) begins to run when the minor reaches the minor's eighth birthday or dies, whichever occurs first.
|Nebraska Rev. Stat. §44-2828 and §25-213
|Two years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery. Minors: Statute of limitations does not apply until turning 20 years of age.
|Nevada Rev. Stat. §41A.097 and §11.250
|Three years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery. Minor: Statute of limitations does not apply until turning 18 years of age.
|New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated section 508
|Any personal injury action must be brought "within three years of the act or omission complained of" in a malpractice case Minor: A person under 18 years has until the day before his/her 20th birthday to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
|New Jersey. Rev. Stat. §2A:14-2
|Two years from when the cause of action accrues. Minors have until their 13th birthday: In the event that an action by or on behalf of a minor that has accrued for medical malpractice for injuries sustained at birth is not commenced by the minor's parent or guardian prior to the minor's 12th birthday, the minor or a person 18 years of age or older designated by the minor to act on the minor's behalf may commence such an action. For this purpose, the minor or designated person may petition the court for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to act on the minor's behalf.
|New Mexico. Stat. Ann. §41-5-13
|Within three years after the date that the act of malpractice occurred except that a minor under the full age of six years shall have until his ninth birthday in which to file.
|New York Civil Practice Law and Rules Law §214-a and §208
|An action for medical malpractice must be commenced within two years and six months of the act. Statute of limitation for children does not begin running until the child's 18th birthday, with one exception. Regardless of the child's age when the event occurred, the statute of limitations cannot be extended more than ten years after the alleged event.
|North Carolina Gen. Stat. §1-15 and §1-17
|Two years from the act or reasonable discovery of the act. Minors under age 18: that if the time limitations expire before the minor attains the full age of 19 years, the action may be brought before the minor attains the full age of 19 years. An action on behalf of a minor for injuries alleged to have resulted from malpractice arising out of a health care provider's performance of or failure to perform professional services shall be commenced within the limitations of time specified in G.S. 1-15(c), except as follows: (1) If the time limitations specified in G.S. 1-15(c) expire before the minor attains the full age of 10 years, the action may be brought any time before the minor attains the full age of 10 years. (2) If the time limitations in G.S. 1-15(c) have expired and before a minor reaches the full age of 18 years a court has entered judgment or consent order under the provisions of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes finding that said minor is an abused or neglected juvenile as defined in G.S. 7B-101, the medical malpractice action shall be commenced within three years from the date of such judgment or consent order, or before the minor attains the full age of 10 years, whichever is later. (3)If the time limitations in G.S. 1-15(c) have expired and a minor is in legal custody of the State, a county, or an approved child placing agency as defined in G.S. 131D-10.2, the medical malpractice action shall be commenced within one year after the minor is no longer in such legal custody, or before the minor attains the full age of 10 years, whichever is later.
|North Dakota Cent. Code §28-01-18 and §28-01-25
|Two years from date of injury or discovered (or should have been able to discover) but not more than six years from event. Minors under age 18: the time before majority is not a part of the time limited for the commencement of the action, but the extension of the limitation is limited to 12 years.*
|Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §2305.113 and §2305.16
|One year from act, but no more than four years for discovery. Minors can bring a case anytime until reaching the legal age of 18.
|Oklahoma Stat. tit. 76, §18 and tit.12, §96
|Within two years of the date of event or reasonable discovery. Minors under age of 12-within 7 years of injury. Twelve years old to 18 have one year to bring forth a case after turning 18 but in no event less than two years from injury.
|Oregon- Rev. Stat. §12.110 and §12.160
|Two years from the date of injury or from the time it should reasonably have been discovered. Under the age of 18, the statute of limitations is suspended until reaching 18th birthday. The time for commencing an action may not be extended for more than five years, or for more than one year after the person attains 18 years of age, whichever occurs first.
|Pennsylvania Stat. tit. 40, §1303.513
|No cause of action asserting a medical professional liability claim may be commenced after seven years from the date of the alleged tort or breach of contract. No cause of action asserting a medical professional liability claim may be commenced by or on behalf of a minor after seven years from the date of the alleged tort or breach of contract or after the minor attains the age of 20 years, whichever is later.
|Rhode Island Gen. Laws §9-1-14.1
|Three years from act or reasonable discovery. Minors: three years after reaching 18 years of age.
|South Carolina Code Ann. §15-3-545
|Within three years from the date of the treatment, omission, or operation giving rise to the cause of action or three years from date of discovery or when it reasonably ought to have been discovered, not to exceed six years from date of occurrence. Under the age of 18 at the date of the treatment, omission, or operation giving rise to the cause of action, the time period or periods limiting filing of the action are not tolled for a period of more than seven years on account of minority.
|South Dakota Codified Laws Ann. §15-2-14.1 and §15-2-22
|Two years from act or omission. Minor under 18: when the patient turns 18 the medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within one year.
|Tennessee Code Ann. §29-26-116 and §28-1-106
|One year from injury or discovery, no more than three years from act. Minors under age 18: may commence the action, within the time of limitation for the particular cause of action, unless it exceeds three years, and in that case within three years from majority.*
|Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Ann. §74.251
|Two years from the date of the negligent act or omission. A minor who is injured before age 12 has until age 14 to file suit.
|Utah Code Ann. §78B-3-404
|Within two years after the plaintiff or patient discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered the injury, whichever first occurs, but not to exceed four years after the date of the alleged act, omission, neglect, or occurrence.
|Vermont Stat. Ann. tit. 12, §521 and tit. 12, §551
|Within three years of the date of the incident or two years from the date the injury is or reasonably should have been discovered, whichever occurs later, but not later than seven years from the date of the incident. The statute of limitations does not start running until the child turns 18 and then follows the deadlines set above.
|Virginia Code §8.01-243 et seq. And Va.Code § 8.01-243.1
|Within two years after the cause of action accrues. Below the age of 8 can file a medical malpractice claim up to his or her 10th birthday. For all minors who are above the age of 8, the time limit of two years from the date of occurrence of medical malpractice will apply.
|Washington Rev. Code §4.16.350 and §4.16.190
|Three years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery, whichever is later. No more than eight years after the act. The statute of limitations for an injury to a child does not begin to run until the child reaches 18 years of age.
|West Virginia Code §55-7B-4
|Two years from injury or reasonable discovery, but no longer than 10 years after injury. A minor who was under the age of ten years at the time of such injury, shall be commenced within two years of the date of such injury, or prior to the minor’s 12th birthday, whichever provides the longer period.
|Wisconsin Stat. §893.55 and §893.56
|Three years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery, not more than five years from act. Any person under the age of 18, who is not under disability by reason of insanity, developmental disability or imprisonment, shall bring an action within the time limitation under s. 893.55 or by the time that person reaches the age of 10 years, whichever is later. That action shall be brought by the parent, guardian or other person having custody of the minor within the time limit set forth in this section.
|Wyoming Stat. §1-3-107
|Two years from injury or reasonable discovery. Minors by 8th birthday or within two years, whichever is later.
*KS, SD and TN sourced from the National Conference of State Legislatures
Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. These codes may not be the most recent version. We make no guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this article.