Statutes of Limitations in Virginia Medical Malpractice Cases

When a patient suffers an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, the patient may be entitled to compensation for their injuries through a Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit. However, as with other personal injury cases, medical malpractice cases must be filed within a certain amount of time.

White CoatThe time limits for medical malpractice cases in Virginia are outlined in Code of Virginia section 8.01-243. Under section 8.01-243, a plaintiff generally has two years from the date of the alleged negligent act to file a claim of medical malpractice. However, in some cases, that time frame can be extended. For example, in cases in which a foreign object is left in a patient’s body or the defendant is alleged to have engaged in any activity to prevent the plaintiff from discovering the alleged negligence of the defendant, the statute of limitations is extended until one year after the alleged act of negligence was discovered.

In certain cases in which the alleged act of negligence involved a “negligent failure to diagnose a malignant tumor,” the filing deadline is extended to one year after a medical professional properly diagnoses the tumor or cancer. A recent case out of Florida illustrates this principle.

The Facts of the Case

In 2008, the plaintiff had a mammogram performed, and the results were interpreted by the defendant radiologist. At the time, the defendant believed that the plaintiff may have had malignant breast cancer but failed to inform the plaintiff or her primary care provider.

It was not until two years later in 2010 that the plaintiff found out that she did indeed have breast cancer. However, at this time, she also discovered that the cancer had metastasized and spread to her bones. The plaintiff successfully underwent chemotherapy for her breast cancer, but the metastatic bone cancer continued to progress.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in 2012, claiming that the defendant’s negligence in failing to diagnose her breast cancer resulted in the cancer metastasizing and spreading to her bones. The defendant successfully moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s case was filed outside the statute of limitations. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the plaintiff. The court explained that the injury at issue was not the plaintiff’s breast cancer but the metastatic bone cancer. The court noted that it was undisputed that the plaintiff did not have any knowledge of the bone cancer or have any reason to suspect she suffered from bone cancer until she was informed of the diagnosis in 2010. That being the case, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case was timely.

Have You Been a Victim of Virginia Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of what you believe to have been negligent medical care, you may be entitled to compensation through a Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit. The dedicated Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the law office of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have extensive experience assisting those who have suffered injuries after receiving inadequate or negligent medical care. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Virginia medical malpractice attorney at the law offices of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. today.

See More Blog Posts:

Court Upholds Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Verdict over Defendant’s Sufficiency Challenge, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, September 6, 2017.

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