Under fire in the state of Illinois are the statute of limitations for medical liability lawsuits, with the possibility that they could be extended and leave physicians indefinitely vulnerable to medical lawsuit abuse.

Currently in Illinois, wrongful death suits must be filed within two years of death, but a recent lawsuit is arguing that the limitation period should begin from the time of discovery. When a trial court upheld dismissing the lawsuit on those grounds, an appellate court agreed with the dismissal but was split in its decision.

Now, the case has moved to the Illinois Supreme Court, and the American Medical Association, together with state medical societies, has filed an amicus brief urging the court to retain the existing statute of limitations.

“The General Assembly intended to provide the citizens of this state with a limitations period fair to both plaintiffs and defendants,” the brief said. “It balances the need for plaintiffs to bring lawsuits with the defendants’ need to know when their potential liability is extinguished.”

Without such a defined period, physicians face uncertain future threats of medical liability lawsuits, and families of true victims will face a less expeditious closing of legitimate claims.