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The Statute of Limitations Under the Federal Tort Claim Act Explained

Generally, when people are harmed by incompetent medical care, the cause of their damages is readily apparent. In some instances, though, it may take months or years for the source of a person’s injury to be revealed. As such, the law often allows some leeway in when a plaintiff’s statute of limitations for pursuing a medical malpractice claim begins to run. Recently, a United States District Court discussed the statute of limitations for malpractice claims against a government-owned medical facility. In this instance, the plaintiff alleged it took him years to uncover that a doctor caused his damages. If you were harmed by the careless acts of an incompetent physician, it is prudent to speak to a seasoned Maryland medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to avoid waiving the right to recover damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

Reportedly, the plaintiff underwent an electric nerve test on his left ankle in January 2014. The test was performed at a medical center run by the Veterans Administration. He stated that the electrical stimulation that was administered during the test was excessive and caused him to be thrown to the floor. Following the test, the plaintiff suffered a swollen ankle, amnesia, anxiety, and fatigue. He continued to suffer ankle and foot pain but did not determine that the improperly administered test was the cause of his injuries until more than three years later.

It is alleged that the plaintiff then filed an administrative notice of his claim with the Veterans Administration. At that point, it was more than a year after the two-year statute of limitations under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) had expired. The defendant ultimately filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were untimely.

Statute of Limitations for Pursuing Claims Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

Pursuant to the FTCA, the plaintiff’s claim for damages accrued when he knew the essential facts: that he had been hurt and the physician that performed the test caused his harm, even if the plaintiff did not know at that time that his injury was caused by negligence. Under this standard, the burden was on the plaintiff to investigate the reportedly unknown cause of his known injury.

In other words, the courts have ruled that if a plaintiff is aware of the facts associated with the injury, he only needs to partake in a reasonably diligent investigation to determine whether he has a cause of action. As such, a plaintiff’s understanding of the basic nature of his treatment is usually sufficient for the statute of limitations to begin running. In the subject case, the court found that no reasonable jury could find that the plaintiff did not know the nature of his test at the time it was performed or shortly after. Thus, the court found that the cause of action accrued when the test occurred, and the plaintiff’s claims were time-barred.

Speak to a Trusted Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were hurt by the reckless acts of a doctor, it is critical to speak to an attorney to assess whether you may be able to pursue claims in a civil lawsuit. At Arfaa Law Group, our trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorneys are adept at helping injured parties recover damages in lawsuits against negligent care providers and we can aid you in the pursuit of the full amount of compensation you may be owed under the law. You can contact us at (410) 889-1850 or via the form online to schedule a meeting.

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