Statute of Limitations Rule for Medical Malpractice Cases Stalls Out


We provided an update a few days ago regarding the potential for New York to finally come into line with 44 other jurisdictions across the United States with regards to the statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice lawsuits.  As it stands now, the statute of limitations begins to run for a person who has been injured because of negligent medical care the second that mistake is made.  It does not matter if that person knew or should have known about that mistake, as if an action is filed too late it will be dismissed. 

This hardly seems fair considering that there are countless cases on record across the country where patients were severely harmed because of a missed diagnosis or some other error and could not have known about it for months if not longer.  Unfortunately, many people who realize that such a mistake has been made do not come to that realization until it is too late to properly treat that condition.  That was the motivation behind a bill that was bouncing around in the legislature recently, as a woman named Lavern lost her life because of a missed diagnosis of cancer.

Lavern’s Law, as it has come to be known, was moving through the legislative process, but there was concern about whether or not it would come to a vote given the limited amount of time that was left in the legislative session.  Sadly, it appears that this bill will not make it to the floor and that the statute of limitations rule that applies to medical malpractice cases will remain the same for at least another session.  Many patient advocates were outraged at this news, and there were also some legislators who made very pointed comments regarding what happened.

Regardless, the result is the same and patients will now have to file a legal action within 2.5 years of the medical mistake or else their claims will be barred.  It will not matter if such a patient could not possibly have known about the mistake until three years later – he or she would simply be out of legal options absent some rare exception.  Medical societies and insurance companies have generally stated that they are in favor of leaving the current statute of limitations rule as it currently exists.

What this development should tell anyone who has any suspicion that a medical professional made a mistake is that he or she should absolutely not hesitate to seek a second opinion.  It could be the difference between healing or getting worse or it could even be the difference between life and death.  It could also be the difference between being able to file a legal claim or being forced to suffer the consequences alone.

If you or someone you love has been harmed in the course of receiving medical care, contact the New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Fitzgerald Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.