Legal Memorandum: Statute of Limitations and Cause of Injury

Issue: Under Iowa law, is the two-year statute of limitations triggered when a plaintiff knows of the injury the cause-in-fact of the injury in a medical malpractice action in Iowa?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Statute of limitations; Injury; Medical malpractice action
Jurisdiction: Iowa
Cited Cases: 745 N.W.2d 443; 757 N.W.2d 670; 758 N.W.2d 232
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2011

In Rock v. Warhank, 757 N.W.2d 670 (Iowa 2008), TA l "Rock v. Warhank, 757 N.W.2d 670 (Iowa 2008)" s "Rock v. Warhank (Iowa 2008)" c 1 *FN1 the Iowa Supreme Court cautioned that “dicta in [its decision in Rathje v. Mercy Hospital, 745 N.W.2d 443 (Iowa 2008) TA l "Rathje v. Mercy Hospital, 745 N.W.2d 443 (Iowa 2008)" s "Rathje v. Mercy Hospital (Iowa 2008)" c 1 ] … implies the statute of limitations is triggered as a matter of law at the start of an investigation into the existence of the injury,” but that construction of the statute of limitations would contradict “the plain language of the statute, that the claimant ‘knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known'” of his or her injury.  Rock, 757 N.W.2d at 675 TA s "Rock v. Warhank (Iowa 2008)" .  In Rock, the plaintiff had undisputedly used reasonable diligence to determine her injury and its cause-in-fact, such that the statute of limitations did not bar her claim.  Id. at 676 & 676 n.5 TA s "Rock v. Warhank (Iowa 2008)" .

If we were to hold the statute of limitations begins to run at the start of an investigation into the existence of a possible injury, then the statute would always be triggered prior to the date the plaintiff gained actual knowledge of the injury unless the injury was immediately apparent.  Such a holding would […]

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