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Statute of Limitations in Arkansas Medical Negligence Cases

Posted on Wednesday, September 2, 2015    

The statute of limitations for medical negligence in Arkansas is generally two years from the date of the negligent act.  Under this strict statute, it does not matter when you discovered that your healthcare provider was negligent, it depends upon when the negligent act occurred.  If a lawsuit is not properly commended within this time frame, the case may likely be forever barred.

Let me emphasize, this rule does not take into consideration that you discovered that your doctor had committed malpractice over two years ago.  This is regularly an important issue when dealing with the delayed diagnoses of cervical, breast, and lung cancer.  If patients with these kinds of cancers discover they had been misdiagnosed over two years ago, they are out of luck, absent a trip to the Arkansas Supreme Court to prove this law is un-constitutional.

The law does have a few exceptions.  If a doctor accidentally leaves a foreign body in you during surgery, the statute is tolled until you discover it.  If you are legally incapacitated, mostly as being a minor, the statute is tolled.  The other two exceptions can be due to misrepresentation/fraud by the healthcare provider and the “continuous treatment” doctrine, though both are prone to narrow interpretation and appellate review.

It is always recommended to commence a medical negligence lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations.  Unless relying on the foreign body or minority exceptions, the case will probably get you dismissed from the trial court and you may have to endure two years of appeals before getting to trial.

In our “tort-reform” state, most of the legislation and court opinions are designed to protect doctors and hospitals from being held accountable for negligence like the rest of our citizens.  Under this reasoning, not being held accountable is actually supposed to improve the quality of healthcare.

In the event that you or a loved one is the victim of medical negligence, please contact an attorney as soon as possible.  As early as possible is the much safer way to proceed in Arkansas.