Under New York state law, you have the right to hold a negligent doctor, medical professional, hospital, or other healthcare provider legally responsible for harm caused by malpractice. To do so, you must bring a claim before the relevant legal deadline expires. The statute of limitations is an issue in every medical malpractice claim. If you fail to act in time, your case could be dismissed without ever getting a full and fair hearing on the merits. Here, our New York medical malpractice lawyers explain the most important things you should know about the medical malpractice statute of limitations.
New York Law: The Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim
The statute of limitations is a law that determines how much time you have to file a lawsuit for a specific type of legal claim. Similar to most other states, New York has a specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. Under NY CPLR § 214-a, legal action for “medical, dental or podiatric malpractice [must] be commenced within two years and six months.” In other words, New York law gives patients 30 months from the date that medical malpractice occurred to file a lawsuit.
Five Exceptions to New York’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
While most medical malpractice claims in New York are subject to a 30-month statute of limitations, there are some important exceptions to the general rule. You may have more (or less) time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in the following circumstances:
- Continuous Treatment: If you or your loved one was receiving ongoing treatment from a physician or medical provider, the 30-month statute of limitations clock will not start running until the date at which “continuous treatment” stopped. In some cases, this could allow a patient to bring a claim for malpractice that occurred, in part, more than 30 months ago.
- Foreign Object Malpractice Claims: New York has a specialized statute of limitations for foreign object medical malpractice claims. If a foreign object was left in the patient’s body—usually because of a surgical mistake—the statute of limitations is one year from the date that object was or should have been discovered by the patient.
- Child Victim: The statute of limitations is not as strict when the victim is a child. If the medical malpractice victim was a minor, the New York statute of limitations is ten years from the date of the incident or the date when the victim reaches 20.5 years of age, whichever comes first.
- Wrongful Death: In the unfortunate event that the victim died as a consequence of medical negligence, any wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of their death. Though, the estate may have an additional six months (2.5 years) to seek damages as part of a survival action medical malpractice case.
- Claim Against the Government: It is important to emphasize that the exceptions to New York’s general medical malpractice rule do not always extend the statute of limitations. If a government agency or government entity was responsible for the malpractice, there are some additional legal deadlines to know about. Consult with a New York medical malpractice lawyer right away.
COVID-19 and the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
You may be wondering if the COVID-19 pandemic will have any impact on the statute of limitations in your medical malpractice claim. You should know that most statutes of limitations were tolled during the New York State disaster emergency relating to COVID-19 that began on March 7, 2020. In other words, the statute of limitations were temporarily suspended.
However, in November of 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.72, lifting the toll on the statute of limitations for most civil claims. If you or your loved one was the victim of medical negligence, you should assume that the statute of limitations clock is currently running. Get in touch with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to assess how this tolling provision may have extended the time to commence your claim
Call Our New York Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Powers & Santola, LLP, our New York medical malpractice lawyers are experienced, respected, and results-focused advocates for patients and their families. If you have any questions about medical malpractice and statute of limitations, we are here to provide guidance. Contact us now for a free, confidential initial consultation. With legal offices in Albany, Syracuse, and Rochester, we handle medical malpractice claims throughout all of Upstate New York, including in Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, and Troy.