Time Is Of The Essence: What You Should Know About Filing Medical Malpractice Claims in Tennessee

Blog by: Monica M. Cacace, Esq.
Tennessee and Florida Licensed Attorney
Breeding Henry Baysan PC
Knoxville, TN Office

If you believe you are a victim of Medical Malpractice which occurred in Tennessee, the most important thing you should know is that you have ONE (1) YEAR TO FILE A LAWSUIT OR ELSE YOUR RIGHT TO SUE EXPIRES! One year can pass by very quickly so you should act immediately after you have discovered the medical malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Investigations Takes Time

If you want to hire a lawyer to represent you in your claim for medical malpractice, you should seek a legal consultation as soon as practical after the medical malpractice has occurred to allow the lawyer or team of lawyers sufficient time to investigate your claim. An investigation into a medical malpractice claim takes time. If you happen to have all the medical records associated with the medical malpractice, it may take a few weeks to a few months for a lawyer to thoroughly review your case. If you do not have any medical records, they will have to be ordered, and this could increase the investigation time by at least thirty (30) days. An investigation into your claim usually cannot take place until the medical records are available for the lawyer’s review.

Once the lawyer reviews your medical records and finds that a medical malpractice may have occurred, the lawyer will likely submit your medical records to a medical expert for further evaluation. The medical expert should be a medical professional that has the same field of expertise as the medical professional alleged to have committed the medical malpractice. For example, if an OBGYN committed the medical malpractice, then an OBGYN should be hired as the medical expert. There are many experts available around the country but locating a local expert may take time as some may be defense experts, others may personally know or are competitors with the medical professional who committed the medical malpractice, etc. Give yourself and/or your lawyer sufficient time to investigate the claim. Lawyers may be hesitant to take on your case if you only have 30 days left to file a lawsuit even though you may have a great case, simply because they won’t have enough time to evaluate it.

Additional Time To Sue Is Possible

Tennessee law allows an additional four months to the one year statute of limitations if proper notice was sent out to the potential defendants before the one year mark. However, this is not an automatic extension and a substantial mistake on your notices could prevent the court from applying the four months extension. Therefore, it is important you seek legal advice on your case as soon as the medical malpractice occurs.

What If You Discover Your Medical Malpractice Years Later

Medical Malpractice usually happens when the medical treatment is rendered or the surgery is performed, but sometimes it can take time to discover that a malpractice occurred. For example, let’s say you have spinal cord surgery and without knowing it, the surgeon has closed your incision but failed to notice she/he has left one of her/his surgical tools inside of you. For a few months after surgery, you feel discomfort and decide to follow up with the surgeon. When the surgeon takes the x-ray of your spine three months after surgery, she/he sees the surgical tool inside of your body, which is the source of your pain, and then informs you of her/his mistake. When does the clock start ticking against your claim? This is up to the court to determine the date of the malpractice based on the facts and arguments presented. In the example given, a court would likely rule that the medical malpractice occurred on the date of surgery but you would have no reason to know it occurred until the x-ray revealed the medical malpractice and thus, the clock starts ticking on the date you learned the results of the x-ray.

If you have a potential Medical Malpractice Claim and would like me to review your case, please contact me at 865-670-8535.