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Birth Injuries and Statute of Limitations in Illinois

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Medical malpractice that leads to birth injuries can be devastating. These errors can change lives forever. Doctors and hospitals responsible for causing or contributing to birth injuries through their negligence can be held accountable through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Like all personal injury lawsuits, Illinois birth injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations refers to the time frame within which an injured victim must file a lawsuit and make a malpractice claim. If the statute of limitations expires, the potential plaintiff reaches the time limit and is no longer able to sue. The claim may be deemed to be “time barred.”

If you or your child was the victim of a birth injury, it is important to understand the statute of limitations. To make sure you can hold the doctor or hospital accountable, you must act before your time expires.

A Chicago birth injury attorney at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., can help you to file your lawsuit and to meet all relevant deadlines in your case.

The Statute of Limitations in Illinois Birth Injury Malpractice

For purposes of expediency and fairness, statutes of limitations exist for all types of personal injury actions. The theory behind setting a time limit is that doctors and hospitals should not live in endless fear of being sued for old injuries. Further, after too much time has passed, there may be few witnesses and little evidence left, making it difficult for plaintiffs and defendants to argue their case.

Rather than tying up the courts with old cases, forcing people to live in perpetual fear of potential lawsuits and forcing people to put together a case with limited information, statutes of limitations set a maximum time frame for claims.

Unfortunately, this can be problematic in birth injury cases.

When a child suffers a birth injury, the symptoms may not become apparent immediately. The parents may not know right away that their child has been harmed. For example, symptoms of cerebral palsy may not appear until a child is a toddler. Even when it is apparent that something is wrong, parents may not know immediately what types of birth injuries were suffered or be aware of the full extent of the damage done to an infant. It could take years to diagnose an injury and assess the damage.

Because of the strict time limits, however, parents who have reason to suspect that their child may have suffered from a birth injury should consult with a Chicago birth injury lawyer to discuss whether to file a case and when to file a case. Parents and children who have been victimized by a birth injury should also know the deadlines so they can act accordingly.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuits?

There are three possible Illinois laws that potentially apply to set the statute of limitations in birth injury cases. These three possible laws include:

  • Two-Year Statute of Limitations – Any lawsuit against a healthcare provider (doctor, hospital, nurse, etc.) must be filed within two years of either the date of the injury or the date that you should reasonably have known about the injury. However, the maximum time frame to file any claim is four years after the occurrence of the act or omission that caused the injury. 
  • Minors – Medical malpractice actions must be brought within eight years if the negligent act or omission leading to the lawsuit occurred when the injured victim was under 18. However, the lawsuit must always be brought before the victim turns 22. The claim is time barred after the victim’s 22nd birthday. 
  • Disabilities – The time clock for determining when the statute of limitations begins is when the victim’s disability is removed. In other words, the claim does not become time barred unless or until the plaintiff is no longer disabled. A that point, the standard statute of limitations clock starts to run.

These laws establish a rule that the minimum amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit for wrongful birth is two years after the birth injury occurred. If the plaintiff didn’t know about the birth injury right away, then the statute of limitations starts at the time when they either discover or reasonably should discover that they have a medical condition caused by negligence or wrongdoing – as long as this discovery is within four years of the negligent act or omission.

However, because birth injuries happen to children under 18, the statute of limitations may be as long as eight years or until the child turns 22. Finally, because many birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy, can cause mental disabilities, it is possible that the birth injury claim would never be time barred unless the child was no longer considered impaired and his or her disability was cured.

Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer Today

Although it can be argued that a statute of limitations never expires for a child disabled by a birth injury, not every case will classify for this tolling of the time limit. It is far better to ensure you have taken prompt legal action than to depend on a long statute of limitations. So, if you believe you may have a claim for damages, it is important to contact a qualified and experienced Chicago birth injury lawyer right away.

At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we can help make sure you don’t miss any deadlines to file your birth injury claim. We can also help you to craft a solid argument that a long statute of limitations should apply. We can work with you to build a case that maximizes your chance of getting the full amount of damages you deserve.

To learn how our Illinois birth injury lawyers can help you, give us a call today at our toll-free number or contact us using our online contact form. We can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You will not pay for our legal services unless we obtain compensation for you and your family.