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Medical malpractice statute of limitations may be extended

When a physician in New York does not treat a patient with the proper level of care, the patient may suffer greatly. In such a case, the patient or his or her family may be able to file a medical malpractice suit against those responsible for the harm caused. When it comes to litigation, each state has a statute of limitations in place, which requires a patient to file suit within a certain amount of time. In New York, as of now, patients are required to file their lawsuits within 2 ½ years after the malpractice allegedly occurred. This malpractice could include a misdiagnosis, mistreatment of the patient, or any other act or omission that fails to live up to the acceptable standard of care.

New York lawmakers are now trying to give patients and their families more time to file their suits. A new bill would start the clock on the statute of limitations when the patient first realizes that there may have been malpractice. The patient would then be able to file suit, as long as it was within 10 years of the malpractice incident.

Some experts are opposed to the change, saying that it will cause the cost of medical malpractice insurance to skyrocket, thereby increasing the costs of healthcare. There is also concern that 10 years is too long and is much longer than the statute of limitations in other states. Also, unlike other states, New York does not have a limit when it comes to pain and suffering damages. Therefore, these individuals claim, other states can afford to be more liberal with their statute of limitations than New York.

However, supporters say that the change will benefit patients with more complex conditions who may not become aware of the malpractice until years after the fact. As of now, the bill is widely supported in the State Assembly's Democratic majority and passed there last year. However, the Republican-led Senate may prove to be a challenge. No vote has been scheduled, but the session will adjourn for the year in late June.

Source: Insurance Journal, "New York Lawmakers Push to Extend Deadline for Med-Mal Suits," David Klepper, June 6, 2016

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Michael J. Gaffney, Attorney at Law
1164 Victory Blvd.
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