Can someone go back and sue a hospital after 15 years for medical malpractice?
Hospital forgot scissors in body after surgery. The patient was a non-English speaking foreigner who signed a non-liability form to not sue but was not aware of what was going at the time.
Sadly, probably not. You would have a Statute of Limitations problem.
The statute of limitations is the time that you have to file a lawsuit until it is forever barred. In other words, you could have the best case in the world, but if you don't file a lawsuit in time, the case will get thrown out. Every type of case has a different statute of limitations. Within medical malpractice in Illinois there are different statutes of limitation depending on how old you are, who the defendant is and your mental condition.
Some people believe that having a statute of limitations is unfair. For example, if you are dealing with a serious illness, you are probably just focusing on your health and rightfully so. The fact of the matter is that even if you wait a while to file a lawsuit because you are ill or grieving the loss of a loved one or because you didn't know that you might have a case, if you wait too long your potential lawsuit will be barred forever.
In most Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits you have two years from the date you knew or should have known of the malpractice or injury, but no more than four years from the date it happened. In other words, if you had a chest x-ray that showed a tumor in 2001, but didn't discover that the doctor failed to diagnose it until 2006, it is likely too late to file a suit, even if the doctor admits his error.
The statute of limitations can be shorter than two years for cases against state or county run agencies. In most of those instances you have one year from the date you knew or should have known malpractice might have been committed or caused an injury.
Medical malpractice cases that result in a wrongful death generally have to be filed within two years from the date of the death.
Finally, if the injured party was under the age of 18 when the malpractice occurred, they have eight years to file their case from the date of the incident, but in no instance can it be filed after their 22nd birthday. If a potential claimant is mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the disability is removed.
I would seek legal consultation in your area to be sure based upon the facts in your case. Consultation is usually free.