The Discovery Rule in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice claims are complex. One of the more challenging aspects of this type of lawsuit to understand is the “discovery” rule. In most cases, the statute of limitations in Arizona for an alleged act of malpractice is two years. However, that two-year time starts from the date of the discovery. Therefore, if you wish to file a lawsuit, you have two years from the time you knew or should have known that you are the victim of malpractice. However, the statute is not always clear as to what constitutes a “reasonable” discovery time. Therefore, it is best to consult with a medical malpractice attorney the moment you suspect negligence.

How the Discovery Rule Works in Medical Malpractice Cases

The discovery rule is an exception to the standard two-year statute of limitations. The purpose of this rule is to provide plaintiffs time to discovery that malpractice occurred and still have time to file a lawsuit.  This is because a patient may not always know that they are the victim of malpractice. While hospital injuries are often clear, an issue of misdiagnosis is not always evident immediately. For example, a patient is misdiagnosed with reflux and receives treatments for that condition. However, a few years later, they start to recognize that their symptoms are becoming worse. It is discovered that the patient was misdiagnosed and that they had stomach cancer, not reflux.

While the statute of limitations expired on this patient, the patient did not reasonably discover their misdiagnosis until the moment they were diagnosed with cancer. Therefore, his or her attorney could argue that they did not reasonably discover the injury until that time.

The Extensions Provided are Still Limited

While the discovery rule may allow an injured person to file a lawsuit more than two years after the injury-causing incident, it is still important to seek advice and move quickly if you suspect you have been the victim of medical malpractice.  Filing a malpractice claim in Arizona, whether for defective medical equipment, a misdiagnosis, or hospital injuries, can be incredibly complex. Therefore, it is best to consult with an attorney that has experience with these types of cases. Contact the attorneys at Udall Shumway, PLC today to explore your options.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding Discovery Rule, or other personal injury matters, call 480.461.5300. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.