A statute of limitations relates to the time period between the happening of an act and a lawsuit being filed. Statutes of limitation are established to help facilitate a resolution to a conflict within a reasonable amount of time. Once the time period established by the statute of limitations passes, remedy by way of a lawsuit is no longer possible for the plaintiff.
Recently, a plaintiff found out the harsh reality of Indiana's statute of limitations when the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected her malpractice claim after holding that the claim was barred by a two-year statute of limitations.
The woman's case was based on a series of events that took place in 2012 when the plaintiff went to see the defendant for an initial appointment regarding stomach issues. After performing a colon exam and biopsy on the plaintiff, the defendant prescribed Lialda (mesalamine) and instructed her to take one tablet per day. At that time, the defendant did not inform the plaintiff of any risks associated with the taking of mesalamine, including that mesalamine can cause renal impairment and that the manufacturer of Lialda recommends that a patient's renal function be evaluated both prior to and periodically during treatment with the drug.
The plaintiff had a follow-up appointment with the defendant where she was told to continue taking one tablet of mesalamine per day. Her renal function was not monitored. A follow-up appointment was supposed to be scheduled for five months later in order to see how she was doing. However, the plaintiff returned to the defendant's office at some point shortly after that appointment to pick up more samples of mesalamine from the receptionist and never scheduled a follow-up appointment.
The plaintiff later developed a rash on her arms and also started to develop symptoms of arthritis. She went to her primary care physician's office and had lab tests performed. The nurse practitioner at the primary care physician's office noted concerns about her drastically reduced renal function.
The plaintiff was then referred to a nephrologist who told her that she was suffering from acute renal failure and that mesalamine, among several other possibilities, may be the cause.
Over the course of many months, the plaintiff was seen by many doctors, many of whom felt that her symptoms were caused by her use of the mesalamine.
The Indiana Court of Appeals, in its review, noted that when a medical malpractice defendant asserts the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense, the defendant bears the burden of establishing that the action was commenced beyond the statutory period. Once that burden is met, the plaintiff must establish an issue of material fact to a theory that avoids the defense.
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice action is two years after the alleged act.
The plaintiff filed her medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in 2015. However, doctors informed the plaintiff of the damage the mesalamine was causing in 2013. The Court determined that the plaintiff had enough information in 2013 that, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have led to the discovery of the malpractice.
Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician's neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.