The Discovery Rule
The discovery rule is a common law doctrine that allows extra time for the discovery of medical negligence before the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim can begin. In some cases of medical malpractice or personal injury, an event that caused injury or wrongful death is not apparent when it first occurs, usually due to the nature of the injury itself. The discovery rule will suggest that the statute of limitations begins from the time that the suing party became aware of the unlawful event. It is unevenly applied, and may be discarded by a judge that disagrees with the claim. How it is used depends on the injury and other circumstances of the event.
An example of the use of the discovery rule would be:
If a worker is unknowingly exposed to harmful chemicals that lead him or her to develop a serious medical disease years later, the discovery rule will suggest that the statute of limitations on suing a negligent employer would begin when the illness was first detected, not at the time of the exposure that was unknown.
One factor that is critical if a discovery rule is to be invoked successful is due diligence on behalf of the injured party. For example, if the worker had symptoms consistently throughout the years before being diagnosed with the medical disease, a judge could decide that the worker had not shown due diligence in regards to his health and the case. This is where the discovery rule becomes subjective, and it is up to the judge to decide what the injured party could or should have known.
The rules of discovery and statute of limitations can be complicated, but they can also be helpful. If you are concerned that you may have been a victim of medical malpractice and these rules may apply to your case, contact a Tucson personal injury attorney at Thrush Law Group today.