There is a two and a half year statute of limitations for New York medical malpractice cases. Under CPLR 214-a, the statute begins to run at the time the medical malpractice occurred, not when the victim discovers the malpractice. This means the victims claim starts to accrue regardless of whether they know that the malpractice occurred or not. Oftentimes, this means that victims will often not discover an injury until the statute of limitations has already run, making it too late to sue.
However, this is one way to alleviate this burden. The statute of limitations can be tolled provided the patient is receiving continuous treatment from the doctor for the same or related injury or illness that the medical malpractice resulted from (not merely continuing any general doctor-patient relationship). The statute of limitations begins to run once treatment ends for the related injury or illness.
Continuous treatment is when there are regular sessions for the same condition between the patient and the doctor. Additionally, there needs to be actual treatment. There cannot be just a series of diagnostic services or examinations.
Some acts will terminate continuous treatment. For example, if the patient terminates treatment with the defendant doctor and begins receiving treatment with a different doctor. An exception to this is if it was not the patient’s intention to sever the continuing relationship with the defendant doctor. The toll for continuous treatment ends, starting the statute of limitations, once a patient leaves their last appointment where they received treatment for the related injury or illness and does not make another appointment.
The purpose of this doctrine was to protect patients from having to interrupt corrective medical treatment or undermining the doctor-patient relationship in order to ensure that a medical malpractice action was brought in a timely manner. This allows patients to continue their treatment without fear that the statute of limitations will expire, allowing the patient to wait until the treatment has ended prior to bringing a lawsuit against the doctor who committed the medical malpractice.
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.