How Long Do You Have to Sue a Hospital for Negligence?

Friday, November 10, 2023

How Long Do You Have to Sue a Hospital for Negligence?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

If you’ve suffered injuries in a hospital due to healthcare provider negligence, you may want to file a medical malpractice claim. One of the initial concerns you may have is how long you have to sue the hospital for negligence. You have limited time to act as set out in the Illinois statute of limitations.

Unfortunately, several Americans believe they have suffered from medical negligence at some point, but only one to three percent of those cases make it to the courtroom. This is partly because the victims are often unaware of their time constraints.

At Malman Law, we recognize the importance of acting swiftly to protect your rights and ensure you don’t miss out on the potential compensation you deserve. Our legal team can provide guidance and support to help you confidently navigate the legal process.

The Standard Period of Time for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Illinois

Understanding the timeframes of filing a medical malpractice claim in Illinois is paramount when seeking justice for healthcare negligence. The Illinois statute of limitations sets the boundaries on the period you can initiate a lawsuit.

  • The standard time frame for filing a medical malpractice claim in Illinois is two years from the date of the injury, according to 735 ILCS 5/13-212. Therefore, you have a two-year window from when the injury occurred to file a lawsuit.
  • In case the hospital negligence results in death, the 740 ILCS 180/2 sets the time limit to two years, calculated from the date of the patient’s death.

We advise victims not to underestimate this time frame. Two years can pass swiftly, especially when dealing with injuries and the issues of legal claims. Therefore, prompt action is advisable if you suspect you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice.

To make proper use of your time window,  begin to create a paper trail to gather evidence immediately. This includes retaining forms from your doctor’s appointments and compiling all communication, including emails. Keep all medical receipts as they help establish the doctor-patient relationship and, most importantly, create a timeline of events.

If you don’t file the lawsuit within the two years, it may result in forfeiting your case, with only a few exceptions. Seek legal advice from an attorney quickly to help you observe important timelines.

Illinois Discovery Rule

The discovery rule in medical malpractice cases applies when the negligence isn’t immediately apparent and couldn’t reasonably be uncovered within two years of occurrence. Under this rule, individuals can file a lawsuit within six months from the moment they discover the malpractice.

Nevertheless, the statute of repose in Illinois sets a stringent limitation on medical malpractice claims. It allows such claims to be filed within four years from the date of the medical error, regardless of when it was discovered. This ensures a degree of closure in medical malpractice cases and prevents claims from being filed many years after the fact.

Exceptions to Statute of Limitations for Hospital Negligence in Illinois

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations for hospital negligence that provide specific circumstances where the time limits can be extended. Here are a few exceptions for filing hospital negligence lawsuits:

  • Minor victims: If the person affected by hospital negligence was under eighteen years when the malpractice occurred, the statute of limitations extends to eight years from the date of the malpractice or until the individual reaches the age of 22.
  • Mental Incompetence: In cases where the claimant is mentally incompetent, the period of limitations begins when the disability is no longer present. This ensures that individuals who cannot make legal decisions due to mental incapacity are not unfairly penalized for the delay in discovering the negligence.
  • Fraudulent concealment: If a hospital fraudulently conceals its negligence, the statute of limitations is extended to five years after discovering the injury. This provision grants victims more time to bring their claims to light once the fraud is revealed.
  • Federal tort claims: In some instances where private hospitals’ negligence involves doctors who are Federal government employees, claimants must file a Federal Tort claim and provide notice early within two years following the occurrence. This is a unique requirement of cases involving both federal and private entities.
  • Absent defendant: Should the individual responsible for your injury relocate from Illinois following the incident, the duration of their absence will not count within the two-year time frame for filing a lawsuit. Simply, if this individual is absent from the state for one year, you have an extra year beyond the initial two-year period to initiate your lawsuit.

The above exceptions are specific to the circumstances of each case and require evaluation by an attorney to ascertain their relevance.

When Should I Contact a Hospital Negligence Attorney?

While contacting a hospital negligence attorney is a critical step in seeking justice, it’s essential to reach out to an attorney early in advance within the statute of limitations period. Early action can significantly affect the outcome of your hospital negligence claim.

The legal and medical analyses required for your case can be time-consuming. This means waiting until the limitations period is about to expire may not provide your attorney with sufficient time to review and prepare your case thoroughly.

Moreover, some people cite emotional instability for failing to file a case well in advance. While this is understandable, it does not exempt one from the statute of limitations. Therefore, you should consult a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer promptly after suspecting hospital negligence to ensure you have enough time to build a strong case and protect your legal rights.

Contact a Hospital Negligence Attorney Today

Timely filing of a hospital negligence claim is crucial for successful claims and securing damages. Our firm has represented numerous victims of hospital negligence and has won substantial settlements.

A lawyer from our team is ready to assist you in filing your claim within the required time frames to ensure you maximize your potential for compensation. Your recovery after suffering injuries due to hospital negligence depends on your prompt action today. Reach out to us today for the proper guidance and support in your claim for justice.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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