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Ask the Attorney: What is the statute of limitations for dental malpractice in New York?

Though this may seem to be a simple question with a short, numerical answer, you will have to read this blog to fully understand and ins and outs of the dental malpractice statute of limitations in New York. If you have been a victim of dental malpractice in the Empire State, you need an attorney with experience in this particular area of the law. Lance Ehrenberg, Esq., a prominent dental malpractice lawyer with decades of successful outcomes under his belt, will fight vigorously to bring you the compensation you deserve. 

The General Statute of Limitations for Dental Malpractice in New York is 2½ years from the negligent act. While in many states, such a statute can extend to the time at which the negligence was discovered, since 1975, New York State law is “occurrence-based,”  meaning you must file within 2½ years of the negligent act or omission itself. Nonetheless, many exceptions to this statute make the answer to the question What is the statute of limitations for dental malpractice in New York? a great deal more complicated.

Exceptions to the NYS Statute of Limitations Include:

1. Pediatric patients under the age of 18 who have a 10-year maximum or until the age of 20 ½ (e.g. a 3-year-old has until age 13 and a 16-year-old has until 20 ½). 

2. Patients with mental incapacity: If the patient’s lack of capacity is severe enough to prevent the plaintiff from protecting their legal rights at the time of malpractice, there is a 10-year maximum from the date of the act or omission.

3. Failure to diagnose cancer (Lavern’s Law). In situations of this kind, a lawsuit may be filed either within 2½ years or whichever is later: [1] when the person knows or reasonably should have known of such alleged negligent act or omission, or [2] knows or reasonably should have known that such alleged negligent act or omission has caused injury, provided that legal action begins no later than 7 years after the incident.

4. Continuous Treatment doctrine: Because the law does not require a patient to disrupt treatment to begin a malpractice case, the patient may bring a malpractice case beyond the general 2½ year statute of limitations if there is a continuous course of treatment for the same condition by the same dental practice. This often occurs in orthodontia treatment when the dentist may continue monitoring the patient for months or years after the equipment is removed and may never make it clear that treatment is officially over. 

When a Treatment Plan Becomes a Contract

In some cases, if a patient has missed the general statute of limitations, we may sue for breach of contract based on the treatment plan or consent form. The breach of contract statute of limitation is 6 years. If your dentist has improperly guaranteed results, we may be able to use such a treatment plan as a basis for our lawsuit.

The Takeaway

Now that you’re aware of the complexity of the statute of limitations for dental malpractice in New York, you can see why it is critical to have a skilled, knowledgeable attorney fight for your rights. Contact Lance Ehrenberg today. He will evaluate your case at no cost and will charge you no attorney’s fees until he recovers meaningful damages.