March 25, 2022

Connecticut General Statutes (Rev. to 2015) § 52-584 provides in relevant part: ‘‘No action to recover damages for injury to the person, or to real or personal property, caused by negligence, or by reckless or wanton misconduct, or by malpractice of a . . . hospital . . . shall be brought but within two years from the date when the injury is first sustained or discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered . . . .’’

The Connecticut Supreme Court “has consistently construed the term ‘‘injury’’ to mean ‘‘actionable harm.”” “Actionable harm” occurs when the plaintiff discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have discovered the essential elements of a cause of action.

In a Connecticut medical malpractice case it decided on February 2, 2022, the Connecticut Supreme Court stated: “Here, it is undisputed that the plaintiff fell on February 10, 2015, while a patient at Manchester Memorial Hospital. It is also undisputed that she knew that she fell and that she knew she suffered some physical harm as a result of that fall. On the basis of those facts, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations set forth in § 52-584. The plaintiff responded with her own affidavit in which she stated: “I was unaware [on February 10, 2015], what was the cause of my fall … [o]n or about April 6, 2015, staff at the . . . doctor’s office informed me [that] a nurse or nurse’s aide should have been responsible for my safety while inpatient at [Manchester Memorial Hospital].’’

The Connecticut Supreme Court explained that actionable harm does not occur until the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered that the harm complained of was caused by the negligence of the defendant. “Bearing in mind that a court, in deciding a motion for summary judgment, must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the fact that the plaintiff averred that she did not know the cause of her fall or that the defendants were responsible for her safety while she was inpatient at Manchester Memorial Hospital until April 6, 2015, is sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact regarding when her actionable harm occurred.”

The Connecticut Supreme Court held: “Because the determination of when a plaintiff in the exercise of reasonable care should have discovered actionable harm is ordinarily a question reserved for the trier of fact, we cannot conclude that the Appellate Court incorrectly determined that there was a genuine issue of material fact. In other words, at this early stage of the proceedings, and without other evidence from the defendants, we cannot conclude that the plaintiff’s statement that she did not know the causal connection between her physical harm and the negligence of the defendants until April 6, 2015, was unreasonable as a matter of law,”

Source Peek v. Manchester Memorial Hospital, SC 20414.

If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of medical malpractice in Connecticut or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Connecticut medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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