Medical Malpractice State Laws: Statutes of Limitations

This chart will give you the time limit to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in your state.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

In every state, a law called a "statute of limitations" sets a limit on the amount of time you have to go to court and get a medical malpractice lawsuit started. That means filing the initial complaint against the doctor or other health care provider (or care facility) in the civil court system, and in many states it also means complying with additional procedural requirements (like giving notice to the health care provider and/or filing an affidavit or some other sworn statement in which an expert witness declares that your case has merit.)

The "Clock" and the "Discovery Rule"

Whatever filing deadline the statute of limitations sets in your state—two years, three years, etc.—the "clock" typically starts running on the date on which the alleged malpractice occurred. But most states allow special rules where a patient did not know right away (and could not reasonably be expected to know) that they were harmed by a medical error. This is called the "discovery" exception to the statute of limitations, and it usually keeps the clock from running until you actually know (or should know in the eyes of the law) that you were harmed by a health care professional's medical negligence.

The Statute of Limitations for Minor Children

Most states set a separate filing deadline (or special rules for when the statute of limitations "clock" starts) for minors (children under age eighteen) or their parents or legal guardians to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The Statute of Repose In Medical Malpractice Cases

Even when the discovery rule and other special rules might delay the starting of the statute of limitations clock in a medical malpractice case, in many states a "statute of repose" imposes an overarching, absolute deadline on medical malpractice claims, regardless of when the patient actually discovered or might have discovered the harm. For example, a statute of repose contained within a medical malpractice statute of limitations might declare that no lawsuit for medical malpractice may be filed more than ten years after the health care professional's alleged mistake.

What If You Miss the Filing Deadline?

While the statute of limitations differs from state to state, what remains true across all jurisdictions is that if you try to file your medical malpractice lawsuit after the statutory deadline has passed, the court will almost certainly dismiss it. That's why it's crucial to pay attention to the statute of limitations as it applies to your situation, or risk losing your right to sue.

In the chart below, you'll find links to details on the statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice cases in your state. Remember that laws like these can always change, and make sure to consult a lawyer for a clear understanding of the deadlines and procedures relating to your potential case.

State Time Limitation Statute Citation
Alabama 2 years Code of Alabama section 6-5-482
Alaska 2 years Alaska Statutes section 09.10.070
Arizona 2 years Arizona Revised Statutes section 12-542
Arkansas 2 years Arkansas Code section 16-114-203
California 1 yr/3 yrs California Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5
Colorado 2 years Colorado Revised Statutes section 13-80-102.5
Connecticut 2 years Gen. Stat. of Connecticut section 52-584
Delaware 2 years Title 18 Delaware Code section 6856
District of Columbia 3 years D.C. Code section 12-301
Florida 2 years Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(b)
Georgia 2 years Code of Georgia section 9-3-71
Hawaii 2 years Hawaii Revised Statutes section 657-7.3
Idaho 2 years Idaho Statutes section 5-219
Illinois 2 years Illinois Comp. Statutes section 5/13-212(a)
Indiana 2 years Indiana Code section 34-18-7-1
Iowa 2 years Iowa Code section 614.1
Kansas 2 years Kansas Statutes section 60-513
Kentucky 1 year Kentucky Revised Statutes section 413.140
Louisiana 1 year Louisiana Revised Statutes section 9:5628
Maine 3 years Maine Revised Statutes Title 24 section 2902
Maryland 3 yrs / 5 yrs Maryland Cts & Jud. Proc. Code section 5-109
Massachusetts 3 years Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 260 section 4
Michigan 2 years Michigan Comp. Laws section 600.5805
Minnesota 4 years Minnesota Statutes section 541.076
Mississippi 2 years Mississippi Code section 15-1-36(1)
Missouri 2 years Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.105
Montana 3 years Montana Code section 27-2-205
Nebraska 2 years Nebraska Revised Statutes section 44-2828
Nevada 3 years Nevada Revised Statutes section 41A.097
New Hampshire 2 years New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 507:C-4
New Jersey 2 years New Jersey Statutes section 2A:14-2
New Mexico 3 years New Mexico Statutes section 41-5-13
New York 2.5 years N.Y. Civil Practice Law and Rules section 214-a.
North Carolina 3 years North Carolina General Statutes section 1-15
North Dakota 2 years North Dakota Century Code section 28-01-18
Ohio 1 year Ohio Revised Code section 2305.113
Oklahoma 2 years Oklahoma Statutes section 76-18
Oregon 2 years Oregon Revised Statutes section 12.110
Pennsylvania 2 years Penn. Cons. Statutes Title 42 section 5524
Rhode Island 3 years Rhode Island Statutes section 9-1-14.1
South Carolina 3 years South Carolina Code section 15-3-545
South Dakota 2 years South Dakota Codified Laws section 15-2-14.1
Tennessee 1 yr / 3 yrs Tennessee Code section 29-26-116
Texas 2 years Texas Civil Practice and Rem. Code section 74.251
Utah 2 years Utah Code section 78B-3-404
Vermont 3 years 12 Vermont Statutes section 521
Virginia 2 years Code of Virginia section 8.01-243
Washington 3 years Rev. Code of Washington section 4.16.350
West Virginia 2 years West Virginia Code section 55-7B-4
Wisconsin 3 years Wisconsin Statutes section 893.55
Wyoming 2 years Wyoming Statutes section 1-3-107

Think You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

You can use the chat tools right on this page to connect with a medical malpractice lawyer near you and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your potential case (get tips on finding the right lawyer). And before you contact a medical malpractice lawyer, it may help to read up on what makes a medical malpractice case, and what you'll need to prove.

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