Dental Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Any time a person has been injured by another, and that person wants to sue the offending party, the suit must be commended within a certain time frame.  The time frame is governed by a statute of limitations.

The amount of time that one has will depend upon the claim asserted against the defendant.  Generally speaking, medical malpractice claims have a two and a half (2 1/2) years statute of limitations period.   

The time on the statue of limitations begins to tick at the very moment when the dentist committed an act of professional negligence. 

With that said, experienced medical malpractice attorneys practicing law in the Hudson Valley regions of New York know that determining whether or not the statute of limitations has been satisfied in medical malpractice cases is very complex.  Various rules apply, such as the continuous treatment doctrine and for circumstances in which a foreign object was inadvertently left inside a patient. 

The continuous treatment doctrine will give an injured patient more time to commence civil litigation.  Under this doctrine, if a dentist commits medical malpractice against a patient and continues to treat that patient in regard to the aliment related to the negligence, the patient has one year from the date of the last related medical visit with the offending doctor to commence suit. 

A New York case, Miccio v. Gerdis, litigated in the Supreme Court of New York, Suffolk County, and recently heard in the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department will serve as an example.  It also shows the complexity of calculating whether or not the limitations period is satisfied.

The plaintiff in this case alleged that the dentist failed to diagnose a tumor that was causing her loosening teeth, receding gums, and inadequate bone support. 

More than two and a half years had passed from the moment of such failure to diagnose and the time when the plaintiff commenced civil litigation.  The defendant moved for dismissal based on failure to timely commence the case.  Upon appeal, plaintiff successfully raised the continuous treatment doctrine. 

The court said that since the plaintiff received continuous treatment for loose teeth and receding gums, and those symptoms were related to the tumor that the defendant failed to diagnose, the plaintiff was able to use the continuous treatment doctrine to toll the statute of limitations. 

The continuous treatment was traced back to the original missed diagnoses, and therefore the statute of limitations had not expired.  Such by no means indicates that the plaintiff will win; the experienced medical malpractice attorney will have more to do in order to successfully reach a favorable jury verdict and compensation for the plaintiff.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected]  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com

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