How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Minnesota?

Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for its victims and loved ones. Serious injury and even death can result from mistakes made by doctors and other medical personnel. If you or a loved one has suffered medical malpractice in Minnesota, you need to know specifically what Minnesota allows for the statute of limitations, so that you can file a medical malpractice claim in a timely way.

What is the statute of limitations?

Simply put, a statute of limitations means that a civil or criminal action must begin within a certain time from the incident or incidents that the action is seeking to remedy. The primary reason is that as the years pass, memories fade and witnesses can become unavailable or even die, making it more and more difficult for a court to try a case fairly to both sides.

For Minnesota, the limits are three years for cases involving the death of a patient as the result of malpractice, and four years for personal injury under the same or similar circumstances. However, this does not necessarily mean that this period of time is dated from the date the incident occurred. Rather, the date of discovery is the date that matters.

What is the date of discovery?

In civil law, the date of discovery is the date when the fact that a victim or their family member becomes aware, or should have reasonably been expected to become aware, that an injury or death is due to malpractice. For example, a victim may have had surgery performed, and suffered from weakness or pain for some months after this surgery, but believed that this was part of a normal healing process until they were seen by a physician six months later who informed them that there was a problem with how the original surgery was performed. In this case, the statute of limitations may not begin until this date six months later when they became aware of the issue.

What is an affidavit of merit, and how can it affect the statute of limitations?

In Minnesota, an affidavit of merit is required to proceed with a medical malpractice case. This is a statement by a physician that supports the medical malpractice claim of the victim or his or her family member. If there is difficulty obtaining an affidavit of merit, under some circumstances the court will allow a little more time for one to be obtained.

Understanding the statute of limitations can be complex. If you suspect that you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer, without delay to avoid losing your rights connected with this case.