In Massachusetts, the right to recovery for an act that negligently caused the death of a person is governed by Massachusetts General Laws chapter 229. Chapter 229, also known as the 'Massachusetts Wrongful Death Act', details the following:
Who can be a Plaintiff
Who is/are the Defendant(s)
Time period to file suit (Statute of Limitations)
Who are the possible Beneficiaries
Items not recoverable
The executor or administrator of an estate is permitted to bring a wrongful death action "within three years" from the date of death. Under special circumstances, the three years will begin to run when the deceased's executor or administrator knew or should have known of the factual basis for the cause of action.
If minors or individuals incapacitated by mental illness are beneficiaries of the estate, the statute of limitations might be tolled until they reach majority. Tolling of the statute of limitations for minors apply even where there is a personal representative who could have filed the action. However, it may not be in the best interests of the child, or the successful outcome of the case, to delay the filing of the lawsuit. An unreasonable delay could result in medical records being lost or altered; key witnesses moving away, or becoming forgetful; or, even the death of the defendant medical provider or subsequent treating physician. In any event, the claim of the adult surviving parent (if there is one) must be protected by a paper filing within his/her 3 year statute of limitations.
In medical negligence cases, the time to file both wrongful death and non-wrongful death actions is limited by the existing 7 year statute of repose. This means that regardless of when the error or malpractice is discovered, other than with a few exceptions the 3 year-statute of limitations (if it has not expired earlier) will expire not later than 7 years from the error or malpractice actually occurring.
If you suspect that you or your loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, contact us to discuss your particular situation. Protecting your legal rights will benefit you and your family. Although a lawsuit will never bring back a lost loved one, at Gorovitz & Borten the medical malpractice attorneys believe it is our duty (ours and yours) to hold medical providers accountable and to protect future potential victims by improving the quality of medical care by pursuing cases against medical providers responsible for a wrongful death.
If you feel that a medical error, negligence or malpractice has occurred, it is important that you contact us at once, so that your rights can be protected and the statute of limitations preserved. A filing after the statute of limitations has expired will result in the litigation being "thrown out of court", and your claim is lost forever.
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