Posted in News on August 30, 2018
Medical errors are an increasingly common occurrence in the United States, and Montana residents should know the state’s laws and statutes concerning medical malpractice claims. While a medical malpractice claim will follow a very similar framework to a typical personal injury lawsuit, some significant differences exist concerning available damages, filing requirements, and more. After sustaining injuries from any type of medical error or malpractice in Montana, an injured patient should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine his or her options.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Montana
The current statute of limitations, or time limit, for filing a medical malpractice claim in Montana is two years. However, this law will change and the new statute of limitations of three years will go into effect for claims filed on or after July 1, 2019. The statute of limitations begins ticking down on the date the claimant’s injury occurred. In the event of medical malpractice resulting in a hidden injury or medical condition that did not manifest noticeable symptoms immediately, the claimant’s statute of limitations begins on the date he or she discovers the injury or should have discovered it through reasonable diligence.
Montana residents should know that the state has a catch-all five year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. This means if the alleged medical injury occurred five or more years ago, the claimant cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit regardless of whether or not he or she was able to identify the issue. This five-year statute does not apply in cases in which a defendant knew malpractice occurred but did not notify the plaintiff. In such an event, the statute of limitations stops running on the date the defendant discovered the harm in question.
It’s also vital to remember there is a separate statute of limitations for claims against government-run healthcare facilities and healthcare services from government institutions. These cases have a notice requirement of 180 days.
The Montana Medical Legal Panel
Whenever an injured patient decides to pursue a medical malpractice claim, he or she typically must submit the claim to the relevant medical board for review. The medical board will consult with expert witnesses to determine whether or not medical negligence occurred and if the claimant’s case has merit. In Montana, these determinations fall to the Montana Medical Legal Panel. This review process helps prevent frivolous cases from stalling the legal system.
The Montana Medical Legal Panel will review the claimant’s claim and medical records and hear statements from the involved parties concerning the elements of the claim. If the Panel decides the claim holds merit, the Panel will notify the involved parties and may recommend a settlement award for the plaintiff. This recommendation is not binding, however; the involved parties may agree to have the Panel discuss and approve a binding settlement between the parties.
Damages in Montana Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Every state has unique laws concerning the damages available to plaintiffs of medical malpractice claims. Plaintiffs generally receive economic damages to repay him or her for the financial effects of medical malpractice, such as lost income, lost ability to work, and medical expenses. Non-economic damages exist to repay pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible forms of harm the plaintiff experienced. The state imposes a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages, but there is no cap on economic damages.
Filing a medical malpractice claim in Montana can help an injured patient recover his or her losses after suffering an injury from medical negligence.
However, the filing process is complex and a claimant will need a reliable medical malpractice attorney to navigate his or her claim. An experienced attorney can help a patient prepare for a Montana Medical Legal Panel hearing and understand the types of compensation available in the case.
If you think you have a medical malpractice case, contact our law firm today to schedule a free initial consultation. We will review your case and advise you on your best legal options.