For any Pennsylvania resident who has been a victim of medical negligence, it is important to keep in mind the state's statute of limitations. Every state legislature determines the window of time in which a plaintiff may file certain civil lawsuits. In Pennsylvania, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of the negligent incident.
Even if a claim for medical malpractice has merit, a court may not consider it if the statute of limitations has passed. An inmate in a Pennsylvania prison recently learned this when a magistrate judge dismissed his $2 million lawsuit claiming negligent medical care by a prison nurse.
Immediately following the inmate's arrest for robbery in December 2008, the man was treated in a Pittsburgh hospital for a gunshot wound to the hand. He was then transferred to jail, where the alleged negligence took place. The inmate claims that he was prescribed a specific medication for his hand injury by the hospital, but that a prison nurse gave him Tylenol #3 instead. He apparently complained to the nurse's supervisor but to no avail.
The inmate waited until 2011 to file a negligence suit against the prison, one year beyond the statute of limitations. After the two-year window of opportunity had closed, the inmate no longer had a right to seek relief for his claim of negligence.
Compensation that is awarded through a medical malpractice lawsuit can be used to pay for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. It can prevent victims of medical malpractice from suffering financial burdens as a result of another person's negligent care. However, as evidenced by this recent case, it is important for victims to file a lawsuit within the appropriate timeframe.
Source: TribLIVE, "Inmate's suit over medical care dismissed," Mary Pickels, July 28, 2012