If you suffered harm due to a physician or other medical professional’s subpar medical care, you might have a valid claim for medical malpractice. If you are considering filing a claim against the negligent medical professional, you should understand what and how the statute of limitations in your state would apply to your specific case.
Put simply, the law’s statute of limitations places a time limit or deadline on how much time you have to start your medical malpractice case in court. Statute of limitations rules are crucial since waiting too long to file your case will result in you losing your right to legal remedies. This means that you won’t receive any compensation for your damages or losses, regardless of how substantial your losses might be.
Likewise, the time limit could be particularly complicated in medical malpractice claims. The deadline does not usually start to run until a claimant discovers or must have discovered that they sustained injuries, and each state defines its own nuances and exceptions that could impact the deadline.
Furthermore, deadlines vary greatly from one state to another. For example, the most common deadline is two years, such as in Colorado, Florida, and Illinois, and three years in California, Nevada, and South Carolina. Other states have even longer deadlines; four years in Minnesota and five years in Maryland.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in New York
According to the New York Civil Practice Law sec. 214-a, injured victims have 30 months or two years and six months to file a medical malpractice claim, commencing from the date of the negligent party’s medical error. If the error was a part of ongoing medical treatment, the deadline doesn’t start running until your last treatment date.
If an exception to extend the time limit doesn’t apply to your case, and you have missed it, you have likewise missed the opportunity to have your case heard in court. Put simply, this means that you can’t pursue compensation from the negligent party. This is obviously a cruel and harsh result, particularly if you have suffered severe harm because of a negligent doctor’s actions, which highlights the importance and urgency of complying with the filing deadline.
The law, however, provides specific provisions that can extend the deadline to file a medical malpractice case, which includes:
Individuals who suffered harm due to a foreign object that was inside their bodies following a surgical procedure have one year to file their claim. The deadline starts after they discover the error’s existence, or they learned the facts that should lead them to the error’s discovery.
The surgeon must have unintentionally left the foreign object—including pads, gauze, forceps, surgical clips, scalpels, or other surgical tools—inside the body. The exception won’t apply to foreign objects that doctors intentionally placed inside the body, which can include implanted devices or fixation devices such as sutures, pacemakers, and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
So when a lawyer is reviewing a medical malpractice claim that involves a foreign object, the lawyer will need to determine whether the negligent doctor left the object negligently or if the doctor placed the object inside the body intentionally but forgot its removal later on. This is unfortunate since many claims involving foreign objects involve instances in which a patient’s body rejected the object and the object’s placement resulted in an abscess or triggered a fatal infection. But this doesn’t mean that the doctor was not negligent and that a malpractice incident did not occur.
If a doctor failed to diagnose a malignant tumor or cancer, you have two years and six months to file your claim, but the deadline starts after you discovered or should’ve reasonably discovered that you suffered harm due to your doctor’s failure to diagnose or your last treatment, if your treatment is ongoing. This extension, however, is only up to seven years following the misdiagnosis.
Misdiagnoses, in general, are startlingly common in the U.S. Medical diagnostic errors negatively impact the lives of approximately 12 million patients each year. Cancer, infections, and vascular events account for many of all deaths and disabilities resulting in diagnostic failures. Additionally, between 40,000 and 80,000 patients die yearly from complications due to misdiagnosis.
The filing deadline for medical malpractice cases involving minor children doesn’t start running until the 18th birthday of the child, with one exception. But this deadline can’t be extended for more than ten years following the medical error or after a foreign object was found or should’ve reasonably been discovered inside the child’s body, regardless of how old the child was when the malpractice incident transpired.
The 30-month filing deadline doesn’t run against an individual with a certified mental illness. You can only file a medical malpractice case involving an insane individual within 30 months after the insane person has been cured.
Qualified individuals must file a wrongful death claim involving a patient who died due to medical malpractice within two years of the patient’s death.
Working With a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Complying with the medical malpractice statute of limitations in New York means having your initial documents filed with the appropriate court and also sent to the negligent party, the defendant. Your paperwork must include a certificate from your lawyer containing the merits of your claim.
But this does not mean that your case must be completely prepared to go to court by the statute of limitations deadline. In some cases, if the time limit is approaching and the lawyer strongly believes in the merits of the claim, the lawyer will file a lawsuit against the defendant to preserve the injured patient’s legal options and rights. Then, all involved parties may continue to discuss the possibility of settling the case instead of going to court.
If you sustained injuries due to a negligent medical professional medical error, speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to find out what your legal options are and ensure that you can file your claim within the statute of limitations.