Proposed NY Legislation Will Change the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

How will newly proposed legislation affect medical malpractice law in New York?

Of importance to both patients and doctors in New York is a new piece of proposed legislation that, if enacted, will make serious changes to medical malpractice law in the state. The changes involved would allow patients to sue for malpractice years after an alleged offence.

At present, patients are required to file medical malpractice lawsuits within 2 ½ after the alleged misdiagnosis or mistreatment. The amendment to the statute would not start the clock running until the patient first realized that misconduct took place, giving the patient 2½ years from the date of discovery, rather than from the event itself. There are still restrictive parameters, however, in that the amendment states that the lawsuit must be filed within 10 years of the original incident.

Pros and Cons of the Amendment

As you might expect, The Medical Society of the State of New York opposes the change, reasoning that the amendment would greatly increase the cost of medical malpractice insurance, resulting in dire rises in healthcare costs.

Supporters of the proposed amendment, however, point out that diseases like cancer may develop over a period of years and therefore misdiagnosis or mistreatment may not be evident for quite some time. These supporters further state that it is unfair to cut off a patient’s ability to collect damages when the patient could not possibly have known about the medical mistakes before becoming symptomatic.

How do New York malpractice laws compare to those of other states?

Even though most states require lawsuits be filed within 5 years of the medical incident, no matter when it was discovered, most allow 1 to 3 years for discovery of the mistake. Those who support the new bill make the argument that New York has one of the most stringent requirements in the nation, making New Yorkers most vulnerable to being without legal recourse. They also point out that New York could do what other states have done: cap the amount of damages the patient could receive while expanding the time period during which a lawsuit could be filed.

Case in Point

In 2012, a 46-year-old woman was diagnosed with, and treated for, benign uterine fibroids at a New York City hospital. Almost 3 years later, she was informed that she had advanced uterine cancer that had already metastasized to her liver and spine. Her new doctors informed her that, had she been correctly diagnosed and treated appropriately at the time the disease first appeared, she would not have had the grim prognosis she has now. Because too much time has elapsed according to the current malpractice law, she now has no legal options. Now at the end of her life, this woman is a leading supporter of the bill’s passage.

Unknown Outcome

Though this bill has broad-based Democratic State Assembly support, having passed that chamber last year, it still faces heavy opposition in the Republican-led Senate. Since no vote on the bill has been scheduled and the legislature adjourns for the year later this month, it is unlike that a decision will be made any time soon.\

If you have suffered injury or disease as a result of medical malpractice, you should not attempt to file a lawsuit on your own. You need the expertise of an attorney skilled in medical malpractice negotiation and litigation, one who will see to it that you receive the compensation you deserve for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.