Cicero, IN asked in Personal Injury, Health Care Law and Medical Malpractice for Indiana

Q: What's the statue of limitation on a injury that occurred in high school 40 years ago from the fall of 1983?

A student suffered a fall back in the fall of 1983. The school nurse neglected to have the student checked out at the hospital. Had the school done that and to have the hospital done an x-ray on the right arm, the hospital would have discovered a fracture on the elbow. If addressed, this would have avoided a deterioration of the nerve effecting the arm and hand. The hand years later in 2023 lost it's muscle in the hand that sits between the thumb and forefinger. The patient also developed carpal tunnel which is questionable as to whether or not it's related to the fracture of the elbow that occurred in 1983. Would the school still be held liable for not having the student hospitalized that could have eventually found the fractured elbow after an x-ray? Even 40 years later? It happened at the Indiana School for the deaf in the Fall of 1983. The patient will need surgery on the elbow. But the damage on the nerve has already gone too far long. Just wish this was dealt with back '83.

2 Lawyer Answers
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: The answer to your question is an unequivocal "NO." I am not familiar with the Indiana school for the deaf. If it is a private school, the statute of limitations ran on your 20th birthday. If it is a public school, you would be suing an arm of the state of Indiana so you would be required to file a tort claims notice within 180 days or 270 days, depending. Any way you look at it, the statute of limitations ran more than 35 years ago.

Don't feel so bad about the statute of limitations having run. The school is not an "insurer" of student safety on campus. The school nurse is not a substitute for an MD, much less an orthopedic surgeon. If the parent or guardian was made aware of the fall, it was THEIR responsibility to follow up with a specialist. If you think about it, the suit would amount to a malpractice action against the nurse for failing to diagnose a condition that was not identified by any medical practitioner for nearly 40 years.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
  • Little Neck, NY

A: Aside from the statute of limitations, the measure of damages would make many law firms reluctant to contemplate the costs of litigating such a malpractice action. Good luck

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