In a case it decided on September 22, 2016, the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois (“Illinois Supreme Court”) rejected the defendants’ argument that the statute of limitations in an Illinois medical malpractice wrongful death case begins to run on the date of death as a matter of law, and held that the discovery rule found in section 13-212(a) of the Illinois Code is applicable to the plaintiff’s wrongful death and survival action alleging medical malpractice.
The Illinois Supreme Court stated that the two-year limitations period in section 13-212(a) of the Illinois Code starts to run when a person knows or reasonably should know of his injury and also knows or reasonably should know that it was wrongfully caused.
The Illinois Supreme Court stated that the term “wrongfully caused” refers to that point in time when the injured person becomes possessed of sufficient information concerning his injury and its cause to put a reasonable person on inquiry to determine whether actionable conduct is involved. The question of when a party knew or reasonably should have known both of an injury and its wrongful cause is one of fact, unless the facts are undisputed and only one conclusion may be drawn from them. In many, if not most, cases the time at which an injured party knows or reasonably should have known both of his injury and that it was wrongfully caused will be a disputed question to be resolved by the finder of fact.
In the case it was deciding, the Illinois Supreme Court concluded that a factual determination must be made as to when the statute of limitations began to run. Based upon the record before it, the Illinois Supreme Court stated that all it knows is that the plaintiff filed his lawsuit less than two years after receiving the initial verbal medical expert report on April 21, 2011, and within the four-year statute of repose contained in section 13-212(a) of the Code.
The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the lower appellate court that affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with the Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion, while also stating that the plaintiff may not be successful on remand but the Illinois Supreme Court could not hold, as a matter of law, that the two-year statute of limitations had expired prior to when the plaintiff filed his complaint on March 18, 2013.
Source Moon v. Rhode, 2016 IL 119572.
If you or loved one may have been harmed due to medical negligence that occurred in Illinois or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice lawyer in Illinois or in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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