In the event you’ve suffered an injury due to a medical professional’s negligence, you may be entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover your damages. However, it’s crucial to be aware that you must commence a legal action within a certain amount of time — if you do not meet the statute of limitations, you will forever be barred from pursuing the compensation you deserve. While the deadline to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit is typically two and a half years from the date of the alleged malpractice, there are certain instances in which the statute of limitations may be tolled, extended, or shortened.
What is the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations?
In most medical malpractice actions, the statute of limitations is 30 months from the date the malpractice occurred or continuous treatment concluded. This deadline is meant to be long enough to provide an injured patient with a reasonable amount of time to file a lawsuit, while protecting medical professionals from malpractice claims long after their services were rendered. However, it’s important to understand that there are certain exceptions to this rule.
What are the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
In the event you suffered an injury due to a medical provider’s failure to adhere to the accepted standard of care, you may be eligible to recover your economic and non-economic losses. But not every case must be filed within 30 months — the law recognizes that there are instances in which the statute of limitations can be extended or shortened. The time limit to commence a medical malpractice lawsuit can vary, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
It’s vital to take note of the following exceptions to the medical malpractice statute of limitations:
- The continuous treatment doctrine — This doctrine extends the timeline to file a medical malpractice claim while you are receiving ongoing medical treatment. Once the course of treatment ends, the 30 month statute of limitations begins running.
- The discovery rule — In some cases, a patient might not know they were harmed by a medical professional’s negligence until years later. For instance, if a surgical tool was left inside your body, you might not discover it until after the statute of limitations has expired. The discovery rule allows a patient to commence a medical malpractice lawsuit within one year from the date the negligence was discovered.
- Insanity — The statute of limitations is tolled in cases where a patient meets the legal definition of insanity and would start running again once the psychiatric disability ends. In these instances, the statute of limitations cannot be tolled beyond ten years.
- Wrongful death — In cases where medical malpractice results in wrongful death, the victim’s family has two years from the date of their loved one’s passing to file a wrongful death action.
- Medical malpractice suffered by minor children — If a child under 18 suffers an injury due to medical malpractice, the statute of limitations would not begin running until they reach the age of majority.
- Cancer misdiagnosis — Under Lavern’s Law, a victim of cancer misdiagnosis has two and a half years from the date they knew, or reasonably should have known, that malpractice occurred to file a lawsuit. Importantly, there is a seven-year deadline to pursue a claim, from the date of the last treatment.
If you are pursuing a claim against a municipal hospital or a state or federal government-owned healthcare facility, there are shorter deadlines that must be met. In addition to the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit being reduced to 15 months from the date of the alleged malpractice, you must file a Notice of Claim on the hospital system within 90 days from the date the malpractice occurred.
Contact an Experienced New York Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice claims are complex — and if you miss the statute of limitations in your case, you could be forever barred from recovering the compensation you deserve. It’s essential to have a skillful medical malpractice attorney by your side who can evaluate the facts of your case and assess which statute of limitations applies. The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP is an established New York personal injury firm that has been fighting for the rights of victims of medical malpractice since 1937. Handling every case with the personalized time and attention it deserves, we regularly secure verdicts and settlements in the millions for our clients. Contact us to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.