If you believe you have been injured by medical professional negligence, you may be wondering how much time you have to bring a lawsuit. This post will provide some general information about the time limits under Montana law; it should not be considered legal advice for any specific situation.
In Montana, there are time limits known as statutes of limitation which apply to all civil claims. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is three years. The three-year period may begin to run on the date of the injury, if the patient knows about the injury right away.
But because a patient may not know right away that they have sustained an injury or worsened medical condition due to malpractice, Montana law applies a "discovery rule." Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the date the patient discovers the injury or should have discovered it through reasonable diligence. This exception is limited, however; the law also provides that in no event can the lawsuit be brought more than five years from the date of the injury.
There are some important exceptions. If the hospital or doctor knew or should have known of the malpractice but failed to disclose it to the patient, the time limit does not run during the period of nondisclosure.
There is another important exception in cases involving minors. If the minor was age four or older at the time of the injury, the three-year limit does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of majority. If the minor was under age four at the time of the injury, the three-year time limit begins to run on the child's eighth birthday or the child's death, whichever happens first.
The date the statute of limitations begins to run can sometimes be a complex issue in a medical malpractice case. For that reason, a person who suspects they may have been injured by physician or hospital negligence should consult a medical malpractice attorney without delay.
Source: Montana Legislative Services, "Montana Code Ann. § 27-2-205," accessed Aug. 11, 2014