Virginia Court Discusses Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases Against the Federal Government

If a person who has been harmed by medical malpractice wishes to pursue a claim against the provider that caused his or her harm, the person must pursue the claim promptly. In other words, if a person delays, the applicable statute of limitations may bar the person from recovering damages. In some cases, however, it may not be immediately clear which statute of limitations applies or when the statute began to run. Recently, the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia discussed which statute of limitations applies in medical malpractice cases against the federal government in a case arising out of a failure to diagnose. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a doctor’s failure to provide a prompt and accurate diagnosis, you should meet with a skillful Baltimore misdiagnosis attorney to discuss which claims you may be able to pursue. At Arfaa Law Group, our attorneys regularly represent people in Virginia and Maryland malpractice cases, as well as cases in other states.

Facts Regarding the Decedent’s Care

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s loved one was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on December 23, 2011. He ultimately succumbed to the disease. In January 2014, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the Veterans Administration (VA) and an independent contractor who worked there, alleging their failure to diagnose the decedent’s cancer in a timely manner. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims on the ground that they were barred by the statute of limitations. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Statute of Limitations Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

Medical malpractice claims against an entity of the federal government are governed by the statute of limitations set forth in the FTCA. As a result, a plaintiff alleging harm due to medical negligence in an FTCA case must file an administrative claim within two years of when the cause of action accrues. A cause of action in a medical malpractice case accrues when the plaintiff has uncovered both his or her injury and the cause of the injury. In other words, it accrues when the facts reveal that negligence may have been involved in the plaintiff’s harm.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff was alerted to the potential negligence of the defendant on the date of diagnosis when the doctor who diagnosed the decedent advised that the decedent’s cancer should have been caught earlier. The court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument that the continuing treatment doctrine tolled the statute of limitations, finding that although the decedent continued to receive treatment at the VA after his diagnosis, none of the treatment contributed to his harm. Instead, the harm was caused by the failure to diagnose or treat his cancer promptly. As a result, the court affirmed the ruling dismissing the case.

Meet with an Experienced Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone in your family sustained damages due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner, you should meet with an experienced medical malpractice attorney regarding the steps that you can take to seek compensation. The dedicated attorneys at Arfaa Law Group are proficient at handling medical malpractice cases in Virginia, Maryland, and other states, and we will advocate aggressively in your favor to provide you with a strong chance of a successful result. We can be reached at (410) 889-1850 or via the online form to set up a free and confidential meeting.

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