Minnesota Medical Malpractice

Legal Outline

No Discovery Rule

Minnesota does not recognize a discovery rule for medical malpractice. Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758 (Minn. 1993). Anybody who says otherwise, including any other legal website, is wrong.

In practice, what this means is that the patient’s knowledge of the injury (or even what the patient should reasonably know about the injury) is not what starts the clock running on the statute of limitations. Instead, other factors determine the expiration of the statute of limitations in Minnesota, including the date(s) of the negligent treatment, the date that injury occurs, the type and duration of the treatment the patient had with the defendant healthcare provider, the plaintiff’s age, and a number of other potential factors. Because of this, most attorneys are incredibly careful when advising a potential client on the expiration date for their particular claim. There are just so many little things that could come up and affect it.

Injured patients should keep the four-year timeframe in mind and start the clock from the date of allegedly negligent treatment. In cases of wrongful death, use a date three years from the date the injured person died. Then, if there are any changes to move that deadline later in time, you should be really careful that there is some sort of basis under the law to do so, being cognizant that it might not be an automatic extension of time and (if you are wrong) result in the dismissal of the entire case regardless of merit. With stakes this high, most medical malpractice attorneys in Minnesota will simply docket that four-year date (three years for wrongful death) and leave it unchanged until the lawsuit is commenced or the case is resolved.

Of course, sometimes a person simply does not learn of an injury until the limitations period is over. At that point, there is no choice but to look at whether there are options to proceed anyway – but when the injury is discovered within the four-year period, everyone should act quickly to commence the suit before that period expires to save themselves from any potential issues down the road.