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Medical Liability Malpractice Statutes of Limitation

Medical Liability/Malpractice Statutes of Limitation

Heather Morton 3/20/2014

Under state law, a patient may pursue a civil claim against physicians or other health care providers, called medical liability or medical malpractice, if the health care provider causes injury or death to the patient through a negligent act or omission. To recover damages, the patient must establish:

  1. The physician owed a duty to the patient.

  2. The standard of care and that the physician violated that standard.

  3. A compensable injury.

  4. The violation of the standard of care caused the harm suffered by the patient.

All states have set deadlines for when a patient may file a civil claim, known as statutes of limitation, for medical liability and malpractice claims. This chart summarizes state statutes of limitations in relation to adults, minors and foreign objects. The majority of the states have special provisions regarding the time limits for minors to file medical liability and malpractice claims. Twenty-two states have special provisions regarding foreign objects.

 

Please type in a state in the box below or select a state in the drop-down to be taken directly to the state's statutory information.

State: Statutory Citation: Summary:
Alabama Ala. Code §6.5.482 Two years from date of injury or six months from discovery. No suit may be brought four years after date of injury. Minors under age 4: by age 8 if statute would have otherwise expired by that time.
Alaska Alaska Stat. §09.10.070 and §09.10.140 Two years from discovery of injury. Minors under age 8: the time period before the person's eighth birthday is not a part of the time limit imposed.
Arizona Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §12-542 and §12-502 Two years after cause of action. Minors under age 18: the time period before the person’s 18th birthday is not a part of the time limit imposed.
Arkansas Ark. Stat. Ann. §16-114-203 Two years from date of injury. Foreign objects: one year from discovery if not reasonably discovered in original two year requirement. Minors: before age 9, until age 11, unless injury isn't reasonably discovered before 11th birthday, then two years after injury discovered or minor's 19th birthday, whichever is earlier.
California Cal. Civil Procedure Code §340.5 Three years after injury or one year after discovery, whichever is first. No more than three years after injury unless caused by fraud, intentional concealment, or foreign object. Minor under age 6: three years or before age 8, whichever is longer.
Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-80-102.5 Two years from date of injury, no more than three years from act, unless knowingly concealed or foreign object. Foreign objects: two years from discovery. Minors under age 6: before age 8.
Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. §52-584 Two years from date of injury, but no later than three years of the act or omission.
Delaware Del. Code Ann. tit. 18, §656 Two years from injury; but no later than three years if latent injury. Minor: Two years or until age 6, whichever is later.
District of Columbia D.C. Code Ann. §12-301 and §12-302 Three years. Minors under age 18: the time period before the person’s 18th birthday is not a part of the time limit imposed.
Florida Fla. Stat. §95.11 Two years from injury or discovery, no more than four years from injury. If fraud, concealment of injury or intentional misrepresentation prevented discovery within four-year period, two year additional extension from discovery, not to exceed seven years after the act. Minors: age 8.
Georgia Ga. Code §9-3-70 et seq. Two years from injury or death; in no event longer than five years from act or death. Foreign object: One year from discovery. Minors: Two years from 5th birthday if action arose before child attained age of 5.
Guam Guam Code Ann. tit. 7, §11308 and §11404 One year from the date when the injury is first discovered; provided, that such action shall be commenced within three years from the date of treatment, omission or operation upon which the action is based. Minors: the time period during the person’s minority is not a part of the time limit imposed.
Hawaii Hawaii Rev. Stat. §657-7.3 Two years from discovery, not to exceed six years from act. Minors under age 10: commenced within six years or by the minor's 10th birthday, whichever provides a longer period. Minors over age 10: commenced within six years from the date of the alleged wrongful act.
Idaho Idaho Code §5-219 Two years from injury. Foreign object: one year from reasonable discovery or two years from injury, whichever is later.
Illinois Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 735, §5/13-212 and §5/13-215

Two years from discovery but not more than four years from act. Minors: Eight years after act but not after age 22.

 

If a person liable to an action fraudulently conceals the cause of such action from the knowledge of the person entitled thereto, the action may be commenced at any time within five years after the person entitled to bring the same discovers that he or she has such cause of action, and not afterwards.
Indiana Ind. Code §34-18-7-1 et seq. Two years from act, omission, or neglect. Minors under age 6: until 8th birthday to file.
Iowa Iowa Code §614.1 Two years from reasonable discovery but not more than six years from injury unless foreign object caused injury. Minors under age 8: until 10th birthday or same as adults, whichever is later.
Kansas Kan. Stat. Ann. §60-513 and §60-515 Two years from act, but can be up to four years after reasonable discovery. Minors under age 18: within one year after the person reaches majority, no such action shall be commenced more than eight years after the time of the act giving rise to the cause of action.
Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. §413.140 and §413.170 One year from act or reasonable discovery, but not more than five years after act. Minors: the action may be brought within the same number of years after reaching majority or death of the person, whichever happens first.
Louisiana La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §9:5628 One year from act or date of discovery, but no later than three years from date of injury.
Maine Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, §2902 Three years from when cause of action accrues. Foreign objects: time accrues from reasonable discovery. Minors: Six years after accrual or within three years of reaching majority, whichever is first. If the provision in this section reducing the time allowed for a minor to bring a claim is found to be void or otherwise invalidated by a court of proper jurisdiction, the statute of limitations for professional negligence is two years after the cause of action accrues, except that no claim brought under the three-year statute may be extinguished by the operation of this paragraph.
Maryland Md. Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code Ann. §5-109 Five years from act or three years from discovery. Minors under age 11: the time limitations shall commence when the claimant reaches the age of 11. In an action for an injury (i) to the reproductive system of the claimant; or (ii) caused by a foreign object negligently left in the claimant's body, if the claimant was under the age of 16 years at the time the injury was committed, the time limitations shall commence when the claimant reaches the age of 16 years.
Massachusetts Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, §4 and ch. 231, §60D Within three years after the cause of action accrues, but in no event shall any such action be commenced more than seven years after occurrence of the act or omission which is the alleged cause of the injury upon which such action is based except where the action is based upon the leaving of a foreign object in the body. Minors under the full age of 6: shall have until 9th birthday in which the action may be commenced, but in no event shall any such action be commenced more than seven years after occurrence of the act or omission which is the alleged cause of the injury upon which such action is based except where the action is based upon the leaving of a foreign object in the body.
Michigan Mich. Comp. Laws §600.5805, §600.5838a and §600.5851

Two years from injury or within six months from reasonable discovery. No more than six years from injury. Two years or within six months after the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the existence of the claim, whichever is later if discovery of the existence of the claim was prevented by the fraudulent conduct of the health care professional against whom the claim is made or a named employee or agent of the health professional against whom the claim is made, or of the health facility against whom the claim is made or a named employee or agent of a health facility against whom the claim is made or there has been permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.

 

Minors under age 8: a person shall not bring an action based on the claim unless the action is commenced on or before the person's 10th birthday or within the period of limitations set forth in §5838a, whichever is later. Minors between age 8 and age 13: if the claim involves an injury to the person's reproductive system, a person shall not bring an action based on the claim unless the action is commenced on or before the person's 15th birthday or within the period of limitations set forth in §5838a, whichever is later.
Minnesota Minn. Stat. §541.076 and §541.15 Four years from the date the cause of action accrues. Minors under age 18: period of limitation suspended until reaching majority, but not for more than seven years or for more than one year after the reaching majority.
Mississippi Miss. Code Ann. §15-1-36 Two years from act or reasonable discovery, no more than seven years. The cause of action shall be deemed to have first accrued at, and not before, the time of discovery or with reasonable diligence should have been, first known or discovered for foreign objects or fraud. Minors age 6 and under: such minor may commence action on such claim at any time within two years next after the time at which the minor shall have reached his 6th birthday, or shall have died, whichever shall have first occurred.
Missouri Mo. Rev. Stat. §516.105 Two years from act. Foreign object: two years from discovery or should have discovered such alleged negligence with exercise of ordinary care, whichever date first occurs. Negligent failure to inform the patient of the results of medical tests: within two years from the date of the discovery of such alleged negligent failure to inform, or from the date on which the patient in the exercise of ordinary care should have discovered such alleged negligent failure to inform, whichever date first occurs; except that, no such action shall be brought for any negligent failure to inform about the results of medical tests performed more than two years before August 28, 1999. Minors under age 18: until 20th birthday. In no event shall any action be commenced after the expiration of 10 years from the date of the act or for two years from a minor's 18th birthday, whichever is later.
Montana Mont. Code Ann. §27-2-205 Three years from injury or discovery, no more than five years from act. Minors under age 4: time limitation starts from age 8 or the minor's death, whichever occurs first.
Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. §44-2828 and §25-213 Two years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery; in no event longer than 10 years from injury. Minors under age 20: shall be entitled to bring such action after reaching majority.
Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. §41A.097 and §11.250 Three years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery. If the parent, guardian or custodian fails to commence an action on behalf of that child within the prescribed period of limitations, the child may not bring an action based on the same alleged injury against any provider of health care upon the removal of his disability, except that in the case of: (a) Brain damage or birth defect, the period of limitation is extended until the child attains 10 years of age. (b) Sterility, the period of limitation is extended until two years after the child discovers the injury. Minors under age 18: the time of minority shall not be a part of the time limited for the commencement of the action.
New Hampshire N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §508:4 and §508:8 Within three years of act or three years of discovery. Minors: within two years after reaching majority.
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §507-C:4 Statute of limitations specific to medical injury actions (§507-C:4) declared unconstitutional by state Supreme Court (see Carson v. Maurer, 120 N.H. 925, 424 A.2d 825 (1980) and Community Resources for Justice, Inc. v. City of Manchester, 154 N.H. 748, 917 A.2d 707 (2007).
New Jersey N.J. Rev. Stat. §2A:14-2 Two years from when the cause of action accrues. Minors from birth: until age 13. In the event that an action by or on behalf of a minor is not commenced by the minor's parent or guardian prior to the minor's 12th birthday, the minor or a person 18 years of age or older designated by the minor to act on the minor's behalf may commence such an action. For this purpose, the minor or designated person may petition the court for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to act on the minor's behalf.
New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. §41-5-13 Three years from injury. Minors under the full age of 6: until their 9th birthday.
New York N.Y. Civil Practice Law and Rules Law §214-a and §208 Two years and six months from injury. Foreign object: the action may be commenced within one year of the date of such discovery or of the date of discovery of facts which would reasonably lead to such discovery, whichever is earlier. Minors: time under minority is not a part of the time limit imposed, but no extension beyond 10 years.
North Carolina N.C. Gen. Stat. §1-15 and §1-17 Two years from act or one year from reasonable discovery, not more than four years after injury. Foreign object: One year from discovery but not more than 10 years. Minors under age 18: that if the time limitations expire before the minor attains the full age of 19 years, the action may be brought before the minor attains the full age of 19 years; except as follows: (1) If the time limitations expire before the minor attains the full age of 10 years, the action may be brought any time before the minor attains the full age of 10 years. (2) If the time limitations have expired and before a minor reaches the full age of 18 years a court has entered judgment or consent order under the provisions of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes finding that said minor is an abused or neglected juvenile as defined, the action shall be commenced within three years from the date of such judgment or consent order, or before the minor attains the full age of 10 years, whichever is later. (3) If the time limitations have expired and a minor is in legal custody of the state, a county, or an approved child placing agency as defined, the action shall be commenced within one year after the minor is no longer in such legal custody, or before the minor attains the full age of 10 years, whichever is later.
North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code §28-01-18 and §28-01-25 Within two years after claim for relief has accrued but not more than six years after act unless concealed by fraud. Minors under age 18: the time before majority is not a part of the time limited for the commencement of the action, but the extension of the limitation is limited to 12 years.
N. Mariana Islands Statutes unavailable
Ohio Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §2305.113 and §2305.16 One year from act, but no more than four years for discovery. Foreign object: one year from discovery. Minors: the person may bring case upon reaching majority.
Oklahoma Okla. Stat. tit. 76, §18 and tit. 12, §96 Two years from reasonable discovery. Minors under age 12: within seven years of injury. Minors over age 12: One year after attaining majority but in no event less than two years from injury.
Oregon Or. Rev. Stat. §12.110 and §12.160 Two years from injury or reasonable discovery, but within five years from the date of the treatment, omission or operation upon which the action is based or, if there has been no action commenced within five years because of fraud, deceit or misleading representation, then within two years from the date such fraud, deceit or misleading representation is discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered. Minors under age 18: until majority. The time for commencing an action may not be extended for more than five years, or for more than one year after the person attains 18 years of age, whichever occurs first.
Pennsylvania Pa. Stat. tit. 40, §1303.513 No cause of action asserting a medical professional liability claim may be commenced after seven years from the date of the alleged tort or breach of contract. Foreign object: no time limitation. Minors: No cause of action may be commenced by or on behalf of a minor after seven years from the date of the alleged tort or breach of contract or after the minor attains the age of 20 years, whichever is later.
Puerto Rico P.R. Code Ann. tit. 31, §5298 and tit. 32, §254 One year. Minors: Period of time while plaintiff is a minor does not count against the statute of limitations.
Rhode Island R.I. Gen. Laws §9-1-14.1 Three years from act or reasonable discovery. Minors: three years from reaching majority.
South Carolina S.C. Code Ann. §15-3-545 Three years from act or omission, or reasonable discovery, not to exceed six years. Foreign object: Two years from reasonable discovery; provided, that, in no event shall there be a limitation on the commencement of the action less than three years after the placement or leaving of the appliance or apparatus. Minors: statute of limitations tolled, not to exceed seven years on account of minority, and in any case more than one year after reaching majority. Such time limitation is tolled for minors for any period during which parent or guardian and defendant's insurer or health care provider have committed fraud or collusion in the failure to bring an action on behalf of the injured minor.
South Dakota S.D. Codified Laws Ann. §15-2-14.1 Two years from act or omission. Minors under age 18: the time of the person's minority is not a part of the time limited for the commencement of the action. The period within which the action shall be brought cannot be extended in any case longer than one year after reaching majority.
Tennessee Tenn. Code Ann. §29-26-116 and §28-1-106 One year from injury or discovery, no more than three years from act except where there is fraudulent concealment on the part of the defendant, in which case the action shall be commenced within one year after discovery that the cause of action exists. Foreign object: within one year after the alleged injury or wrongful act is discovered or should have been discovered. Minors under age 18: may commence the action, within the time of limitation for the particular cause of action, unless it exceeds three years, and in that case within three years from majority.
Texas Tex. Civil Practice and Remedies Code Ann. §74.251 Two years from occurrence, no more than 10 years. Minors under age 12: until age 14th birthday to file.
Utah Utah Code Ann. §78B-3-404 Two years from occurrence but not more than four years from act. Foreign object or fraud: within one year discovery, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the existence of the foreign object wrongfully left in the patient's body, whichever first occurs.
Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, §521 and tit. 12, §551 Three years from incident or two years from reasonable discovery, whichever occurs later, but not later than seven years after incident. Fraud: no statute of limitations. Foreign object: If not discovered within the period of limitation under this section, the action may be commenced within two years of the date of the discovery of the foreign object. Minors: may bring such action within the times in this chapter respectively limited, after reaching majority.
Virginia Va. Code §8.01-243 et seq. Two years from occurrence, no more than 10 years unless under disability. Foreign object: One year from reasonable discovery. If fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation prevented discovery of the injury within the two-year period, for one year from the date the injury is discovered or, by the exercise of due diligence, reasonably should have been discovered. In a claim for the negligent failure to diagnose a malignant tumor or cancer, for a period of one year from the date the diagnosis of a malignant tumor or cancer is communicated to the patient by a health care provider, provided the health care provider's underlying act or omission was on or after July 1, 2008. Minors under age 8: until his 10th birthday to commence an action. Minors over age 8: Claim shall be commenced within two years of the date of the last act or omission giving rise to the cause of action.
Virgin Islands V.I. Code Ann. tit. 27, §166d Two years but within two years from the last treatment for continuous treatment for same illness/injury. Foreign object: the time will be computed from the reasonable discovery. Minors: until 6th birthday to file a claim, or two years, whichever period is longer.
Washington Wash. Rev. Code §4.16.350 and §4.16.190 Three years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery, whichever is later. No more than eight years after act. Foreign object or fraud: one year after actual knowledge. Minors under age 18: time period during the person’s minority is not a part of the time limit imposed.
West Virginia W. Va. Code §55-7B-4 Two years from injury or reasonable discovery, no longer than 10 years after injury. Minors under age 10: two years from injury or 12th birthday, whichever is longer.
Wisconsin Wis. Stat. §893.55 and §893.56 Three years from injury or one year from reasonable discovery, not more than five years from act. Foreign object: One year from reasonable discovery or three years from act, whichever is later. Concealment: One year from reasonable discovery or three years from act, whichever is later. Minors under age 18: within the time frame under §893.55 or by the time that person reaches the age of 10, whichever is later. That action shall be brought by the parent, guardian or other person having custody of the minor within the time limit set forth in this section.
Wyoming Wyo. Stat. §1-3-107 Two years from injury or reasonable discovery, except that a cause of action may be instituted not more than two years after discovery of the alleged act, error or omission, if the claimant can establish that the alleged act, error or omission was not reasonably discoverable within the two year period. Minors: by 8th birthday or within two years, whichever is later, except that a cause of action may be instituted not more than two years after discovery of the alleged act, error or omission, if the claimant can establish that the alleged act, error or omission was not reasonably discoverable within the two year period.

Heather Morton is a program principal in Fiscal Affairs. She covers financial services, alcohol production and sales, and medical malpractice issues for NCSL.

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