The statute of limitations in New York is something that potential medical malpractice plaintiffs need to take seriously. Not initiating your legal claim in a timely manner can lead to the unfortunate result of your claim being barred from consideration. This is what happened in a 2013 case, involving a patient who died after doctors misdiagnosed her otherwise-treatable form of lung cancer but whose surviving relatives waited too long before filing a lawsuit. Their legal claims were accordingly rejected by the court.
The tragedy of that case has led to a movement in the state legislature that has produced a bill known as “Lavern’s Law.” If enacted into law, the bill would extend the statute of limitations in cases where the person injured by an act of medical malpractice does not discover the injury right away; the 15-month period in which to file suit would begin not at the time that the injury occurred, but instead at the time that the plaintiff discovered it.
The state Assembly has already passed its version of Lavern’s Law, but at the time of the news account on which this post is based the state Senate had yet to take up its version of the bill for a vote. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has indicated that if the bill reaches his desk he will sign it into law.
Even if Lavern’s law becomes the law in this state, it does not mean that people who have been injured by medical malpractice should feel complacent about the urgency needed to protect their legal right to file a civil lawsuit. The statute of limitations will still be in effect, and it can still result in potentially valid claims being barred from consideration if the matter is not brought forward in time.
Under the current statute of limitations or the new one if Lavern’s Law becomes effective, anyone who believes that he or she has been the victim of medical malpractice should consult with an attorney to evaluate their possible legal courses of action as soon as possible.
Source: New York Daily News, “NY Assembly OK’s Lavern’s Law, now Senate must act on bill,” Kenneth Lovett, June 10, 2015