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Medical malpractice cases have a statute of limitations on when you can file your claim. A "statute of limitations" is defined as the maximum period of time after an event (such as a surgical mistake or misdiagnosis) that can elapse before a case is filed in court. The statute of limitations can be applied in both civil and criminal cases. This statute is to prevent medical malpractice cases that took place a very long time ago from being brought into court when little of the evidence surrounding the case may still be found. It is important to consult a medical malpractice lawyer soon after you believe the case of medical malpractice occurred, so that you can file your claim before the statute of limitations runs out.