Oregon Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
As we’ve covered before, most lawsuits fall under statutes of limitations set by the states in which the claims are filed. A statute of limitations outlines a timeframe in which a lawsuit can be filed, typically starting from the original date of injury or wrongful action. In this blog, we’ll discuss how statutes of limitations affect medical malpractice settlements in Oregon.
Medical Malpractice in Oregon
First, let’s clarify what counts as medical malpractice in Oregon. Elsewhere, we’ve defined medical malpractice as the professional negligence by healthcare professionals or providers in which treatment provided was substandard, and caused injury or death to a patient. Most states, including Oregon, require claimants who want to collect medical malpractice damages to prove that a medical professional failed to uphold a certain standard of care - typically defined as the level of care that would be expected from any other professional in similar circumstances and/or with a similar background and skill set.
Medical malpractice settlements in Oregon can therefore cover anything from surgical errors and medication errors to mis- or missed diagnoses. If a doctor or nurse’s error leads to injury or death, and it can be proved that the provider committed a failure of care, skill, or diligence, the wronged party is entitled to medical malpractice damages.
However, medical malpractice settlements are complex and can be difficult to prove. One barrier is the statute of limitations.
The Reason for Statutes of Limitations
A vast range of both civil and criminal suits are bound by statutes of limitations. This is for several reasons. One reason is that if too much time has passed after an initial civil or criminal wrong, evidence can be damaged or lost, and cases become harder to fairly prove. Another reason is that our legal system aims to protect members of society from the threat of being sued in perpetuity.
Statutes of limitations are thus a normal part of a functioning judicial system, and holding all members of society accountable for their actions requires an understanding of how they work.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Oregon?
In Oregon, there is a two-year statute of limitations, or a two-year time limit, for filing a medical malpractice claim. Under state law, all Oregon medical malpractice claims must be filed in court within two years of the date of the injury. If the injury results in death, any lawsuit must be filed within three years of the injury, date of discovery, or date of death, but no more than five years from the date of injury.
If the deadline has passed and you try to file a lawsuit anyway, the doctor or hospital you’re trying to sue will file a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. Unfortunately, most courts will grant the motion and you’ll be unable to take further legal action against the doctor or hospital that harmed you.
There is only one exception to Oregon’s statute of limitations: if the defendant used fraud, deceit or misleading representation to hide the malpractice, then there is a two-year deadline once the fraud or deceit is discovered. In these cases, a medical malpractice claim must still be proven through 1) proving the doctor or hospital acted negligently, and 2) correlating the negligence with an injury.
Is There a Cap on Oregon Medical Malpractice Damages?
Many states place caps on damages in medical malpractice settlements. Oregon’s constitution prevents caps on non-economic damages in personal injury cases, including medical malpractice. While the state doesn’t place a cap on non-economic damages in personal injury cases, a cap of $500,000 is applied to wrongful deaths caused by medical malpractice.
While you technically have two years to file a claim, many medical malpractice lawyers refuse to take cases older than eighteen months. If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, it’s in your best interest to hire a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
Please contact Nelson MacNeil Rayfield today if you have any questions regarding your claim, and we’ll be happy to provide a free consultation.