No matter how strong your medical malpractice lawsuit is, it won’t get very far if you don’t file it properly.
This means not only filing it within the statute of limitations, but providing timely and proper notice to any and all defendants and providing proper statements of sustained injuries and monetary damages.Failure to do this could result in a lawsuit dismissal, which means you will either have to start all over again, or worse, you could lose your chance to obtain compensation altogether.
This became obvious in Sleeth v. Sedan City Hosp., reviewed recently by the Kansas Supreme Court. At issue here was whether one or more letters to hospital administrators and an insurance carrier representative amounted to substantial compliance with state statutes that require certain forms of notice prior to filing a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice.
This was a case of wrongful death alleged against a city hospital and its employee. It stemmed form the death of a child who was a patient at that hospital. His parents allege that a hospital employee caused his death by puncturing the child’s bowel when inserting a feeding tube. He died in 2008.
Because this was a city-owned hospital, it was subject to certain notice requirements under state law.
Generally, cases against government-owned hospitals are tricky because there is more bureaucratic red tape that has to be filed, and these entities may be protected to some degree by immunity laws.
While South Carolina and Kansas are among those states that waive sovereign immunity for certain kinds of tort claims, there are still a host of exceptions. In South Carolina, you’ll find them in S.C. Code Ann. §15-78-60. However, S.C. Code Ann. §15-78-70 spells out that government entities and employees are not totally immune from liability. Helping you understand the grounds on which and the degree to which they can be held liable is an important function of your personal injury lawyer. This is why it’s so important to hire someone with experience.
Here, the plaintiffs didn’t give proper notice to the government-owned hospital they were suing. Therefore, the district court dismissed their claim for failure to comply with statutes. The plaintiffs attempted to argue that the claim arose out of a breach of contract, but the lower courts rejected this argument.
They appealed, arguing that they did substantially comply with the statute by giving notice to a hospital representative and an insurance representative. The state’s appellate court agreed with them to a degree, and partially reinstated their claim.
However, the Kansas Supreme Court rejected this ruling and affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss the case because the claim wasn’t properly filed.
For these plaintiffs, this decision effectively spells the end of their case because their original action was filed just seven days before the expiration of the statute of limitations. That means they have exceeded the time window in which they might have refiled the claim.
Contact our Rock Hill personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Sleeth v. Sedan City Hosp., February 2014, Kansas Supreme Court
“Retained Surgical Items” Grounds for Medical Malpractice Lawsuit, Feb. 21, 2014, Rock Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog