People depend on their physicians, surgeons and other medical professionals to diagnose and treat their conditions competently. Unfortunately, even trained, experienced and licensed experts can make mistakes that have severe consequences for their patients. A person who suffers damage to their health or quality of life due to a mistake made by a physician can seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations in Minnesota
Like most states in the US, Minnesota enforces a statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims. Claims for personal injury due to malpractice must be made within four years of the “date the cause of action accrued.” Those filing lawsuits regarding the death of an individual resulting from malpractice only have three years.
The phrase “date the cause of action accrued” does not necessarily mean the day the original incident occurred. The four year time limit may not begin until a later date, depending on various factors. If you are uncertain, talk to your lawyer about how the statute of limitations applies to your specific case.
The Discovery Rule
The “discovery rule” gives victims of medical practice more room to work with when deciding to file a claim for damages. Since many types of malpractice may not become apparent for months or even years after the original incident, the four year limit may not begin until the date the victim became aware or should have become aware of the malpractice.
What You Need to File a Claim
In order to avoid their case being thrown out for exceeding the statute, victims of medical malpractice must file all the necessary documents before the date. Minnesota requires plaintiffs to submit an “affidavit of merit,” which is a legal certificate signed by a qualified physician that supports the case. Plaintiffs are also responsible for submitting documents that identify key witnesses that will testify in their case as well as details regarding their testimony.
The certificate of merit must state that the physician has good reason to believe that the claimant was the victim of negligence during a medical procedure. It should also include supporting evidence, including identification of medical records reviewed, as well as the physician’s reasons for suspecting medical malpractice as the cause.
Time Limit Extension for Late Affidavit of Merits
Plaintiffs that submit their case close to the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations may request a brief extension of the limit if they are unable to get a affidavit of merit in time. The plaintiff must be able to show that getting an expert diagnosis to support their case was not reasonable within the time constraints allowed by the law. In these cases, the individual has an additional 90 days to submit an affidavit with their case.
What Counts as Medical Malpractice in Minnesota?
In legal terminology, “medical malpractice” can describe a wide variety of injuries and other personal losses attributed to error by a medical professional. Foreign objects, like surgical equipment, left inside a patient following surgery is a common type of a malpractice claim. Failure to monitor health during an operation or misdiagnosis of a serious illness can also qualify for these types of claims. Additionally, damage to healthy organs or surgery conducted on the wrong parts of the body are all potential grounds for a malpractice claim.
Not all complications due to surgery or treatment count as medical malpractice. In general, physicians that follow the standard of care for their patient and provide proper medical services are not liable. However, the core definition of malpractice is difficult to clearly define, so you should always consult with a licensed attorney about whether your circumstances are eligible for a malpractice lawsuit.
Cap on Compensation
While many states enforce limits on the amount of money a victim can be awarded after winning a medical malpractice lawsuit, this is currently not a consideration in Minnesota. However, settlements exceeding $100,000 are subject to a special hearing to determine if the compensation should be paid in a single lump sum or through installation payments.