Injustice is not always instantaneous evidence of grievances can take a long time to surface, if at all. Fortunately, the law has a system in place to protect those who were wronged and kept unaware of the fact. At-fault parties cannot escape liability when their only way out — the statute of limitations — is blocked by the Discovery Rule.
Unless a plaintiff knew of the transgression years before filing a case, the clock for the statute of limitations will not run. The discovery rule ensures that both parties have knowledge of the wrongdoing before any legal machinations are set in motion. Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court had to consider a case that hinges on the discovery rule itself, and it presented a clear statement of why it matters.
In 2009, a 90-year-old mother succumbed to numerous complications of prolapse. Two years later, his son asked a medical consulting firm to review the decedent’s records and found that his mother’s doctors were negligent in treating her. The son filed a complaint a month later, citing how the doctors failed to detect and treat his mother’s pneumonia and other respiratory conditions.
A second opinion came about in 2013; it stated that the treating doctors failed to identify the accumulation of fluid in the decedent’s lungs. Any qualified radiologist or physician would have identified it, which presents an argument for negligence.
The son eventually filed the medical malpractice lawsuit, but it had already been three years since his mother’s death. Medical malpractice lawyers from Springfield, IL note that by this time, the statute of limitations had already run out. They add, of course, that the discovery rule proves otherwise.
The defendants moved to dismiss the case, attempting to establish that the decedent’s son had full knowledge of the conditions of his mother’s death three years prior to the complaint. The trial court approved the motion, but the plaintiff was determined to receive just compensation.
The case reached the Illinois Supreme Court, where the decision was reversed and justice was achieved, all because of the legal system’s respect for one’s right to know and to act on that knowledge.