In a recent case, a woman had surgery done at a hospital and subsequently suffered a stroke. The woman filed a products liability claim against the manufacturer of one of the medical devices in the surgery. However, when the complaint was originally filed, it did not name the hospital or the doctor as defendants. It also did not state a claim for medical malpractice. Several months later, the woman requested to file an amended complaint to add the defendants and allege medical malpractice. She then filed the amended complaint almost four months after the original complaint.
The hospital and the doctor then moved for summary judgment, alleging that the filings were untimely. In the jurisdiction where the case arose, a medical malpractice action must be filed within two years of the cause of action accruing. The original complaint was filed just one day before the two-year statute of limitations had run. Thus, by the time the woman amended the complaint, the new claim against the defendants was not timely. The court granted the defendants’ motions because the claims were filed against them after the statute of limitations had expired. The state supreme court agreed, resulting in the dismissal of the claim.
Amending a Complaint and Its Effect on the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time period during which a plaintiff can bring a certain kind of claim. The period of time varies depending on the type of claim and the jurisdiction, or the place in which it is filed. Often, the time begins to run from the date of the injury, the date that an injury was discovered, or the date that it should have been discovered.
A complaint must be filed within the relevant statute of limitations. However, if a complaint is later amended, or changed, the amended complaint does not necessarily receive the same date as the original complaint. If an amendment to a pleading is allowed to receive the same date as the original complaint, it is said to “relate back” to the original filing. That is, if a complaint is amended after the statute of limitations has run, it may be deemed to have been filed within the statute of limitations. If an amended complaint does not “relate back,” it can have an disastrous effect, as was the case above. Whether a complaint relates back depends on the particular amendment and where the case is filed.
Illinois courts have stated that the purpose of the relation back doctrine is to maintain claims that could be dismissed for technical reasons, unrelated to their merits. Thus, Illinois courts have stated they should be construed liberally.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you or a loved one has suffered from a misdiagnosis, a surgical error, or another form of medical malpractice, the Chicago attorneys at Moll Law Group can advise you on how to proceed. Of course, dates matter, and you have a limited window of time to bring a medical malpractice claim, so it is important to act quickly. If you are able to prove medical malpractice, your compensation could include compensatory damages, including medical bills, mental anguish, and lost income. Billions of dollars have been recovered in cases in which we were involved. To learn more, contact us through our online form or call us at 312-462-1700.
See More Posts:
Automated Driving Presents New Risks for Drivers, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, August 16, 2016.
Woman Fails to Provide Required Notice in Medical Malpractice Claim, Resulting in Dismissal, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, July 23, 2016.
Court Hold Adults Who Serve Alcohol to Minors May Be Liable for Related Injuries, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2016.