The Statute of Limitations in New York

You snooze, you lose, is the theme of the day.  Just like bread, the ability to sue someone goes stale after a period of time.  New York law makes it clear that plaintiff’s seeking to sue a wrongdoer must do so fast or else risk the case being thrown out of court. 

The experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney knows that defending on the grounds of an expired statute limitations period is an affirmative defense that defense attorneys must plead.  With that said, no attorney will miss the chance to have a case dismissed because it was untimely filed.  

What this means is that when plaintiffs fail to comply with the statute of limitations period, the case is dead in the water.  This is as plain as it gets.

The statute of limitations period for medical malpractice in New York is 2 ½ years.  Patients victimized by their doctors and nurses will have that amount of time, starting from the date that the doctor messed up, in which to sue the offending doctor.  

With that said, there is something called the ‘continuous treatment doctrine’.  Normally, limitations periods begin to run from the moment that the wrongful act was committed.  While this is also true in medical malpractice cases, exceptions also exist.  

Here are two hypothetical examples that illustrate the point.

Patient Y is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.  A staff surgeon performs the surgery, but does so negligently.  Patient Y never met the surgeon before or after the surgery.  In this case, the statute of limitations begins to run on the date of the surgery and that is that.

Patient Z has planned C-section child birth with her OBGYN doctor.  The doctor messes up the procedure and Patient Z is injured.  Each of the several preceding days right after surgery, the same doctor checks on Patient Z as follow up care to the C-section.  The same doctor sees Patient Z one month later, and then two months after that.  So several months pass after surgery and the doctor continues to treat the patient for items related to the botched C-section.  When does the statute of limitations period begin to run?  Is it on the date of the C-section or on the last day on which Patient Z received continuous treatment for the procedure?

You guessed it!  It is on the final date that she received continuous treatment related to the negligent care she received further in the past.  Therefore, the statute of limitations period begins to run much later than the date that the negligence occurred.  

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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