Medical Malpractice – Failure to Diagnose

James P. Carey - SiebenCarey "Know Your Rights" AttorneyFebruary 07, 2014

Minnesota’s “damage accrual” standard leaves cancer patients out in the cold. 

In Minnesota, medical malpractice suits must be brought within four years from the date “the cause of action accrues.” Exactly when a cause of action accrues has been the central issue in a number of controversial rulings by the state supreme court. 

The court has ruled that in cases of misdiagnosis, the statute of limitations – that is, the time limit within which one must file a lawsuit – begins to run when “damage accrues” to the patient.

If a doctor fails to diagnose cancer that continues to grow, the court has held that the damage accrues at the time of the misdiagnosis. The court’s “damage accrual” standard means that in every case involving misdiagnosis of a cancer that continues to worsen, the clock starts running on the right to sue even though the victim doesn’t know there’s been a misdiagnosis. Conceivably, by the time the patient learns the awful truth about the cancer, he or she may also learn that the right to sue has vanished. 

The damage accrual standard adopted by Minnesota courts violates basic fairness. Why should the patient be charged with knowledge of an inherently unknowable injury? And why should a negligent doctor benefit from the patient’s lack of knowledge caused by the misdiagnosis? 

Fortunately – at least for plaintiffs in other states – Minnesota’s rule is the exception. Most states follow what is known as the “discovery” rule which means the statute of limitations doesn’t start running until the patient discovers, or should have discovered, the problem. This is a common sense approach – particularly in tragic cases involving the misdiagnosis of cancer. 

One bright spot for patients in Minnesota: the state has a relatively long statute of limitations of four years. Still, this does not outweigh the potential injustice caused by the “damage accrual” standard.

Client Reviews

out of 184 reviews
Jazz Smith

SiebenCarey is a professional and dedicated law organization that help accident victim.

Morgan Petoletti

My husband had an amazing experience with this firm. They listened and took the time to understand our case.

Daniel Ball

Really good professionals, they solved my issues in no time using the most impressive and advanced approach. Really good, highly recommended.

Eric Petoletti

Even though I was states away and could only talk on the phone, they listened and did everything that they could to win my case. I felt like I was a part of the family.

Jesse Bukal

In need of a personal injury attorney? Well you're if you're reading this you're in the right place. You'd be hard pressed to find more competent attorneys than the ones here at SiebenCarey.

They took my case to trial and an amazing job presenting the facts and fighting for my best interests! Three years ago I was unsure of what my future would bring; now that it's over I can rest a bit easier. With SiebenCarey as my counsel, I believe I had the absolute BEST representation a person could've asked for. I knew that I wanted the absolute best representation when searching for an attorney to handle my case and I most definitely received it.

If you need a personal injury attorney, look no further. Can't recommend highly enough.

Renee Goneau

SiebenCarey is a great personal injury law firm that really cares about their clients.  Highly recommend!

Jenna L. at Insider Pages

I have had nothing but great service with these guys. They are very knowledgable on a wide variety of subjects and topic. They will help you with any case you need!

St. Paul Local 12

Thanks for everything, your experience paid off BIG!!!

Carly R.

My boyfriend was hit by a car and while all the attorneys he talked to said he didn't have much chance of a case, SiebenCarey took him on and gave him a fighting chance. He's still recovering, but SiebenCarey is making it a lot easier.

Sean Beggs

I was referred to SiebenCarey by a friend after I was involved in a bicycle accident. Jim Carey represented me and throughout the process I was never anxious about the case because he and his team were in constant communication. I knew where we stood and the course of action we were taking which gave me peace of mind throughout my recovery. Everyone I encountered at SiebenCarey from the first phone call until the final resolution treated my case as if it were top priority and they did so respectfully, professionally, and achieved results beyond my expectations. It was a pleasurable experience during a difficult time.

Award Winning Know Your Rights Attorneys

Certified Civil Trial Law Specialists

8 Certified Civil Trial Law Specialists, Minnesota Bar Association
3 Board Certified Trial Advocates, National Board of Trial Advocacy.

2021 Super Lawyers

Also awarded in:
2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

2022 Best Lawyers in America©

Also awarded in:
2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

2022 U.S. News Best Law Firms

Also awarded in:
2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

Attorneys of the Year

5 of our attorneys have been recognized as Attorneys of the Year