So you went to the doctor and you are not better. In fact, you may be worse off or the doctor may have made mistakes with your treatment. This could be prescribing you medications you had a severe and life-threatening reaction to, the doctor may have broken off a tool inside of you such as a needle, or the doctor may have simply slipped and physically injured you during a procedure (i.e., slipping with the scalpel). You understand that mistakes can happen anywhere, but you were seriously injured by your doctor. What should you do?
Many things. But one thing you should not do is delay speaking with an attorney. Do not make an assessment by yourself whether or not you were the victim of medical malpractice—leave that to an experienced professional. This is not only because these professionals are trained in both the law and medicine, but also because there are time limitations you must comply with. Every type of case has these time limitations, but the medical malpractice limitation is actually shorter than other negligence cases.
For most negligence cases, such as car accidents and slip and fall, the statute of limitations is three (3) years from the date of the act or omission causing the injury. However for medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is two and a half (2 ½) years from the date of the act or omission causing the injury. There are some exceptions which can lengthen the statute of limitations period for all cases, including two exceptions unique to medical malpractice cases, but these exceptions should not be relied on.
While the statute of limitations period is only six months shorter, that six months makes a big difference in medical malpractice cases. This is because medical malpractice cases are much more complex then car accidents or slip and falls. For instance, the medical records are generally larger, more detailed, and more involved. Most medical malpractice cases span multiple providers and a high number of diagnostic tests. This requires more time for a medical malpractice attorney to review.
But what also takes a medical malpractice case longer to get started is the fact that, in New York, a medical malpractice attorney cannot simply commence a medical malpractice action. Your attorney must gather all of the relevant medical records, formulate a general understanding of what occurred, and present this to a medical expert in the field. This medical expert is required opine whether or not the standard of care was followed by the doctor who harmed you prior to the filing of a medical malpractice case.
Thus, in a medical malpractice case it will take a longer time than usual to gather all of your medical records from the different providers. It will also take a longer time than usual for your attorney to go over all of those records and decide whether the case has merit and should get reviewed by an expert. Finally, medical malpractice cases take a longer time than usual because a medical expert needs to review all of the medical records and decide whether there was a deviation of the standard of care. These are all complicated assessment and can quickly eat away at the two and a half (2 ½) year statute of limitations.
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.