The statute of limitations is the part of the law that sets the maximum time in which a person or an entity can initiate legal proceedings from the date of the alleged offense. These times differ between states and between the different areas of law. This period usually depends on the nature of the offense, thus in the context of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations refers to how long you have from sustaining your injury (due to malpractice) to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
In 2010, a Brooklyn woman called Lavern Wilkinson went to the Kings County Hospital due to chest pain. An X-ray was taken, and she was sent home by a first-year resident who said she was fine. Unfortunately, she began to experience breathing problems shortly after that and was diagnosed with asthma. When she still had no relief, and the problem worsened, Lavern went back to the hospital in 2012 and received devastating news.
When a doctor looked at the X-ray that had been taken two years earlier, they saw that the first-year resident had missed a small mass visible on the X-ray, which would have been curable at the time. However, because the mass was missed, Lavern had developed full-blown lung cancer in the two years following that fateful visit. Worse, the cancer spread to her other organs by 2013, and she died later that year at the age of 41.
Lavern’s case brought attention to the statute of limitations policies at the time, and there were several demands for the statute of limitations for medical malpractice law to be redefined. These demands were prompted by the fact that Lavern had tried to open a medical malpractice lawsuit before her death, but was told that this was not possible. The law at the time stated that the medical malpractice lawsuit had to be brought forward no later than 15 months after the medical mistake was made (in 2010), rather than from when it was discovered (in 2012).
After a failed attempt in 2015, the “Lavern’s Law” bill was eventually passed. Under this new legislature, cancer patients alleging malpractice now have twice as long to bring medical malpractice lawsuits to action (two and a half years), and the clock only starts running from the time that they become aware of the malpractice.
Though this legislation only applies to cancer patients, it is a significant reform that has brought relief to many cancer victims of medical malpractice.
Because the statute of limitations is such a complex and contentious issue, it is highly recommended that you seek counsel from a medical malpractice lawyer if a medical malpractice lawsuit is something you’d like to pursue. If you live in NYC, then you should find the services of an NYC medical malpractice attorney, as they will have in-depth knowledge of the statute of limitations that pertain to the state.
If you have read this article and think that you or a family member have been subjected to medical malpractice, there is help for you. To get a better understanding of whether medical malpractice did occur, you can speak to the medical malpractice lawyers of Rosenburg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff LLP in NYC.
If you’d like a consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys that is free and confidential, contact us on 212-344-1000 today.
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