If you suffered injuries due to a health care provider’s negligence, you may be entitled to bring a legal action to recover your damages. However, it’s important to understand that you only have a limited amount of time to commence a lawsuit. New York law imposes a strict statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases — and failure to file a lawsuit before it expires can bar you from forever bringing a claim to recover compensation for your damages.
The Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Under New York law, a victim typically has 30 months (or 2 and a half years) to file a medical malpractice action against a negligent physician or other healthcare professional. After this time frame expires, the victim loses their right to pursue a lawsuit to collect their economic and non-economic damages — despite how severe their injuries might be. It’s crucial to note that there are certain exceptions to the statute of limitations. A skillful medical malpractice attorney can assess your claim and best advise you regarding the applicable deadline in your specific case.
The Discovery Rule
Sometimes, it isn’t possible for a patient to know until much later that their doctor was negligent. For instance, if a doctor carelessly left a foreign object such as a scalpel, surgical clip, or other tool in the body during surgery, a patient might not find out for some time — usually after the statute of limitations has already expired. When the discovery rule is applied, the statute of limitations begins running on the date the object was discovered, rather than the date the surgery was performed. This rule allows a victim to bring a lawsuit within one year from the date of discovery of the negligence, or facts which would have reasonably led to the discovery.
The Continuous Treatment Doctrine
Under the continuous treatment doctrine, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until treatment for a particular condition has concluded. This rule applies when the negligent acts were continuous and based on the initial medical complaint. In claims involving a failure to diagnose a condition, this doctrine allows the statute of limitations to be tolled, provided the treatment rendered was for the original condition.
Missed Cancer Diagnosis
Under Lavern’s Law, the statute of limitations can be extended for a missed cancer diagnosis. A victim has two and a half years from the date they knew, or reasonably should have known, that their healthcare provider committed malpractice. There is a seven-year limitation placed on the exception, from the last date of treatment.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Infancy or Insanity
In cases where the victim of the medical malpractice was a minor when the negligent act occurred, the statute of limitations is tolled. The time period to commence an action would not begin running until they reach the age of 18. The clock on the statute of limitations also stops ticking if the patient satisfies the legal definition of insanity — it would start running again once the psychiatric disability ends. However, it’s essential to be aware that with either exception, the statute of limitations may not be extended beyond ten years.
In some cases, medical malpractice can result in wrongful death. The family members of a victim who passed away due to a healthcare provider’s negligence have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death action. If they file a legal claim as representative of their loved one’s estate to recover the costs associated with the medical care rendered prior to death, the time limit is 30 months. However, if any of the above exceptions apply, it may be possible to extend the statute of limitations.
Contact an Experienced New York Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you were injured due to medical malpractice, it’s crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. There are strict statutes of limitations in these cases — and even shorter ones apply if a state or federal government-owned healthcare facility is involved. 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.