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If I have a medical malpractice claim, don’t I have to sue by a certain time?

Yes. For every type of case there is a time frame within which you must file your claim with the court. The time frames are called “statutes of limitations,” they are determined by state and federal law. You must file your claim within the applicable statute of limitations or your case will be forever barred—no matter how badly you’ve been injured or how negligent the conduct of the defendant.

In general, the statute of limitations that applies to most personal injury and wrongful death cases arising in Washington is three years. In some medical negligence cases, including those involving children under 18, there are exceptions that may give you more time.

The limitations period applicable to lawsuits against the United States government is different, even if the case arises in the state of Washington. In general, a claim for personal injury against a United States government agency or anyone working for the government (for example, the VA Hospital and physicians working there) must be filed within two years of the negligent act causing injury. Again, exceptions extending the applicable limitations periods may exist, and special notice requirements may apply.

WARNING: If you believe that you or a family member has been injured by someone else’s negligence, do not delay in consulting an attorney. Do not assume that you have plenty of time to call a lawyer. The above is only general information and may or may not apply to your case. Also, Congress and/or the state legislature may change the statute of limitations at any time. Conversely, even if it has been several years since you were injured, do not assume the limitations period has expired. Call us and we will evaluate whether your claim can still be pursued.