A personal injury claim has a shelf life. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years for these claims, including those for medical malpractice. This means you must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of your injury or you lose your legal right to sue. But what happens if you’re injured but you don’t know it? That’s where the discovery rule comes in.
The discovery rule says that if you didn’t know you were hurt on the date a negligent person committed an act or omission that harmed you, the statutory period doesn’t begin immediately. It begins when you know you have been hurt or a reasonable person in your position would be likely to discover they have been hurt. Here’s an example.
You’ve been working terribly hard and not sleeping well. In the middle of a stressful presentation, you collapse. You’re taken to the ER, where they diagnose you with nervous exhaustion, recommend a course of care, and release you. You follow the treatment plan, but you are plagued with numerous cognitive symptoms and none of the therapies seem to work.
Three years later, you suffer a fall and sustain a concussion. A CT scan reveals the concussion and — to your astonishment — evidence of a stroke that occurred three years ago. A subsequent examination of your old medical record shows the ER had evidence of your stroke, but simply ignored it. But that was three years ago, and the statute of limitations only runs for two years. Are you out of luck?
No. Thanks to the discovery rule, from this point of discovery you now have two years to file your claim against the ER for the misdiagnosis of your condition. The purpose of the discovery rule is to prevent negligent parties, especially those who cover up their tracks after a harmful error, from escaping responsibility due to the passage of time.
However, to benefit from the discovery rule, you must be reasonable. In the above example, suppose you had been dissatisfied with your course of treatment and sought a second opinion. That doctor said, “I suspect you had a stroke. I suggest you get a CT scan.” If, at that point, you ignored the doctor’s advice until you had the concussion, a court would likely rule that the statutory period began on the date of the second opinion, not later when your concussion was diagnosed.
If you suspect you are the victim of medical malpractice, Seigel Law can help. Take advantage of a free consultation by calling 201.444.4000 or contacting our office online to set up an appointment with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
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By Teresa R Perez - January, 2018
I have had a great experience thus far. The personal injury process is stressful and they have been helpful and courteous in getting me the right referrals. I was injured while visiting NJ and live in another state, my case is not an easy one but they are working diligently to help. I appreciate the personalized attention and highly recommend this firm.Read More
By Miriam Smith-Leone - December, 2017
The law office was great with my back and neck injury. They directed me to the right doctors and got me a huge settlement. Being a single mom, it help pay off all my debt and bills. Me and my kids can have a bill free christmas, with plenty of food and happiness, stress free. They are the best ever and I would highly recommend them to anyone rich or poor, who has been in an accident and need legal help...Read More
By L C - October, 2017
After the misfortune of suffering an injury, I had the good fortune to choose Seigel Law to represent me. During my initial meeting with Jan Seigel, I found him to be extremely confident and reassuring---he totally put me at ease. I was represented by Mark Mc Bratney---an EXCELLENT attorney. He was supportive and professional through the entire process, and provided an excellent outcome for my case.Read More
By Liliana Paredes - October, 2017
Honest, trustworthy and very straight forward. In unvarnished truth Jonas Siegel will tell you exactly where you stand and what direction you should go. Jonas has tenacity coupled with a degree of tenderness, but never losing site of the end goal, which is to protect, defend and have the best outcome for his clients. I defenetly recoment this law firm. Thanks for helping me out in my case.Read More
By Oren Goldshmidt - September, 2017
I'd like to thank everyone at segal law for the amazing experience they provided me. From the moment I stepped in to the end of the case , segal and his team delivered exactly what they promised. I couldn't have received any better treatment from a law firm. Any concerns, questions or problems I had were addressed and dealt with accordingly...Read More
"The lawyers at Seigel Law know how to get you the results you want. Jan Seigel and His team returned every one of my phone calls, listened to me and worked with me to a desirable outcome. Seigel Law definitely goes above and beyond to protect the injured." - B.M.
"After my car accident, my life turned into a disaster. Dealing with everything became impossible. Jan Seigel and his people helped me with every aspect of my injuries and the insurance companies so I could focus on healing. They helped me through everything and they got me what I was due." - M.P.
"I found the personnel to be very efficient, and work very quickly. I'm happy that I was referred to this firm, because I found that I was very comfortable working with them." - F.V.
"Amazing. I have to say they were very supportive and were able to give me tons of information. I didn't feel rushed and felt they truly cared about my well-being. Their website is also extremely helpful and well setup." - T.D.