The Discovery Rule focuses on when the actual personal injury was discovered or when the injury should have reasonably been discovered. The rule helps victims in many ways. Let’s say a patient suffers from a latent disease (a disease that can take over a decade to reveal itself) such as mesothelioma. The discovery rule will safeguard their legal rights. For instance, after tolling the calendar date of the statute of limitations from the origination point of the civil wrong, the date can move to a point where the wrong was discovered or when it should have reasonably been discovered giving victims more wiggle room.
Consider the following: A patient enters the care of a physician complaining of chest pains on December 25, 2009 right after a holiday celebration with his family. He is given a clean bill of health, told he has minor congestion, and goes home. His chest pains come and go for three years. On December 27, 2012, he suffers again from serious chest pains and seeks medical care. It is then discovered he has a serious and potentially fatal respiratory problem, which should have been discovered three years and two days ago by the prior examining physician. The examination was, therefore, improperly conducted.
Since the patient did not discover his serious personal injury (the worsening of the chest problem) until after three years had elapsed from the faulty diagnosis, the personal injury law says the discovery rule will not be considered expired. However, had he been suffering from serious chest pains throughout the entire three year period, the personal injury law (via discovery rule) might be considered expired since he should have had reason to know his condition was serious.
If you are unsure about your legal discovery rule date, work with Seeger Weiss, an attorney who knows the ins and outs of personal injury law. Contact us today.