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Washington, D.C. Court Discusses When Claims for Medical Malpractice Accrue

In some instances, a plaintiff will not only suffer harm due to one instance of medical malpractice but will be injured by multiple negligent providers. Unless the instances of harm are in some way related, however, damages for each harmful event must typically be pursued separately. Recently, the United States District Court, District of Columbia, discussed when a claim accrues and what filing date should be considered when a plaintiff pursues multiple medical malpractice claims. If you suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, it is wise to speak with an attorney regarding your possible claims. The skillful attorneys of Arfaa Law Group represent injured parties in medical malpractice lawsuits in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and other nearby states.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, in January 2006, the plaintiff underwent a knee replacement at a government-owned hospital. He subsequently suffered infections, which lead to an amputation of his leg above the knee. Pursuant to the requirements imposed by federal law, he filed an administrative claim with the defendant in September 2008, alleging malpractice and negligence claims. His claim was denied, after which he filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice claims against the defendant. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations, which required the case to be filed within two years of the date of harm. The court granted the motion in part, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims arising out of his knee replacement, post-replacement care, and amputation, leaving only his claims of malpractice arising out of his post-amputation care. The plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration.

Determining When a Claim Accrues

On review, the court noted that the plaintiff filed an administrative claim with the defendant in 2005, related to harm from treatment for his shoulder. The court declined to adopt the plaintiff’s reasoning that the 2005 claim acted as an umbrella to relate the filing of his claim back to 2005, as the law does not permit a plaintiff to present one claim to the government and then file a lawsuit based on a different set of facts.

Further, the court was not compelled to adopt the plaintiff’s reasoning that the accrual of his cause of action should be delayed. The court stated that the date of the accrual of the plaintiff’s cause of action was based on the discovery rule. Thus, the court determined that the plaintiff’s injuries accrued when he discovered both his injuries and the cause of his injuries. The court stated that once the defendant knew of his injuries and the defendant’s part in causing his injuries, he possessed the critical facts needed to pursue his claims. At that point, the court explained, the plaintiff was required to act diligently to assess his prospects for seeking remedies. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling dismissing the untimely claims.

Consult a Capable Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you sustained injuries because of incompetent medical care provided by a government-owned hospital, it is critical to consult a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss what steps you should take to protect your interests. At Arfaa Law Group, our capable attorneys will advocate aggressively on your behalf to help you seek the best result available in your case. We can be reached via our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a free and confidential consultation.

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