WASHINGTON STATE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: PLAINTIFF FRIENDLY

Here in the Evergreen State, Plaintiffs’ enjoy certain statutory rules that Plaintiffs in other states are not so fortunate to have. First, while not being the only state in the US to have a three year statute of limitations, most states preclude a Plaintiff from bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit after two years from the date the injured person suffered their injury at the hand of a medical professional. Furthermore, if an injured person is the victim of medical negligence and three years passes before learning of the injury, the Plaintiff, here in Washington, has one year from the date of discovering the injury to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party. Additionally, when the injured person is a minor (i.e. under the age of eighteen), the three-year statute of limitations is tolled or stops running until the minor child reaches the age of majority or eighteen. This means, that a minor child’s parents may bring suit on behalf of the injured child before he/she reaches eighteen or the minor child preserves the right to sue for one year after reaching the age of majority.

Second, most states require expert witness review of an injury before a Plaintiff is able to bring their case into the judicial realm. Washington however, does not require expert review/testimony in all medical malpractice actions. If the medical negligence is “obvious,” the Plaintiff is not required to use expert testimony to prove their case. So what is obvious? “Expert testimony is not necessary if the applicable standard of care and its violation is within the common knowledge of laymen.” Harris v. Groth, 99 Wash. 2d 438, 663 P.2d 113 (1983).

Lastly, in the past two decades, tort reform swept through this country limiting the amount of compensation a harmed person could receive as a result of being the victim of a tort. Medical Malpractice was not immune from this overhaul in legislative reform. Many states, “capped” the amount of damages a Plaintiff could recover by law. However, Washington refused to impose a ceiling on damages. In 1989 the Washington Supreme Court held damage caps to be unconstitutional and the legislature has not abrogated this ruling since it was decreed.

If you believe you have suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice, please call Roth & Associates. We have many talented attorneys who can help you and your family recover for the medical errors of others.