Victims of medical malpractice in New York have 15 months to file a lawsuit against a public hospital and 2 and half years to sue a private hospital or a physician after a medical error occurred. This rule is unfair to the many patients who only discover that they have been the victim of a medical malpractice after the statute of limitations has passed. For example if a doctor fails to diagnose cancer, it can take several years until the misdiagnosis is discovered. The patient is then left without any possibility to sue and get compensated for the medical error.
Patient advocates strongly believe that the statute of limitations should start at the time of the discovery of the medical error instead of starting at the time of the occurrence of the medical error.
Last week a coalition of 33 organizations sent a letter to Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislative leaders asking them to take the appropriate measures to pass the so called Lavern’s law. The law, named after Lavern Wilkinson, proposes to start the statute of limitations at the time of the discovery of the medical error. Lavern Wilkinson died of a curable form of lung cancer in 2013 after being misdiagnosed in 2010. Lavern was diagnosed with cancer while in terminal phase. The statute of limitations had passed and she was unable to sue for the medical malpractice and get compensated. She left behind a 15 year old autistic child who requires 24 hour attention and care.
The Lavern Law was already introduced in a bill last year. It passed the assembly but was blocked by the Senate. The 33 organisations are asking Cuomo to revive the bill and push for an approval before the end of the legislative session in June.
Our partner Jeffrey Bloom is the Co-chair of the Medical Malpractice Committee of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association as well as the Co-Chair of LAWPAC New York, the Trial Lawyers political action committee. In these rolls he has been instrumental in fighting for the passage of the “Discovery Rule.”
Read more in the NY Daily News