Medical Malpractice and the Statute of Limitations

Before filing a negligence lawsuit, one of the first things that a person needs to consider is whether he or she is still within the allowed time to make a claim, which is called the statute of limitations. With regard to medical malpractice claims, another important consideration is what kind of negligence was committed, such as general negligence or medical malpractice negligence. Readers in New Mexico may be interested in a recent article about a neighboring state’s Supreme Court ruling that may have far-reaching implications.

The case in question dealt with a patient who was injured due to a bed rail malfunction that happened as he was being transferred while under care at a hospital. The patient fell off the gurney and broke his patella and clavicle. At the time, the hospital was transferring the patient on physician’s orders.

The California Supreme Court determined that because the defective bed railing was “integrally related” to the patient’s medical care, and because he was being transferred under a doctor’s orders, the claim had to be classified as a medical malpractice claim, rather than a general negligence claim as it was originally filed. This created a problem for the plaintiff, as the statute of limitations for medical malpractice had long since expired. His claim was ultimately denied.

The determination of whether an injury is a result of general negligence or medical malpractice negligence can make a big difference in the viability of a lawsuit, as the statute of limitations, damage caps and other procedural issues could be affected. Those in New Mexico who are considering filing a malpractice claim after being injured during the course of medical care may benefit from consulting a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney will be able to evaluate the timeframe of the injury and its unique situation, and determine the viability of filing a successful lawsuit.

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