Under current medical malpractice law, an injured patient has two and a half years from when the malpractice occurred to file a lawsuit. However, the New York Assembly recently approved legislation that would start a 15-month statute of limitations to bring a medical malpractice case from when an error is discovered or should have been discovered, with a ten year cap from when the malpractice occurred.
This law, called Lavern’s Law, is named after Lavern Wilkinson. She was a Brooklyn woman who died in 2013 of lung cancer. This form of lung cancer was curable; however the doctors at Kings County Hospital misdiagnosed her. The window to file a medical malpractice claim had expired by the time her family sued.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said that passing this bill “is just the right thing to do for patients and their families.” There have been too many cases where patients have no remedy because the statute of limitations had expired and this bill would provide some victims a chance for relief.
The bill still has to pass the Senate, but Governor Cuomo has said that he will sign the bill if it passes.
The medical community opposes this bill due to fears that it will increase already high medical malpractice rates. However, thirty-one groups have sent a letter to state leaders urging that Lavern’s Law be passed. They believe that New York’s statute of limitations is harmful, preventing patients from pursuing their legal rights when they need them most. When victims attempt to pursue their rights, they often discover that the law denies them the ability to pursue their claim.
Currently the statute of limitations end two and a half years after the act, omission or improper treatment. Therefore it is important that if you have been a victim of medical malpractice, that you contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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