Sometimes cases of medical malpractice are clear right away, as when something goes wrong during surgery or a patient is harmed by a medication error. However, sometimes it takes years to discover that a medical professional has made an error in diagnosis or treatment. That’s when the statute of limitations for bringing a malpractice suit can prevent patients or surviving loved ones from getting justice.
Bill Would Quadruple Statute of Limitations
That’s why New York lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase the state’s statute of limitations from 2.5 years to 10 years after the plaintiff realizes that harm was done. Those who support the bill point out that New York has among the strictest time limits in the country. They argue that for conditions like cancer, it may take patients years to determine that they were misdiagnosed or mistreated.
Right now, like so many issues across the country, views are divided along party lines. The State Assembly, which has a Democratic majority, has passed the bill. However, the Senate, where Republicans are in the majority, has yet to schedule a vote.
One woman, who acknowledges that she “may not live to see this law passed,” is fighting for it because of her own experience. In 2012, she was misdiagnosed with benign uterine fibroids and treated for that condition until 2014, when she learned that she was actually suffering from advanced uterine cancer. By then, the cancer had spread to her spine and liver. She had passed the 2.5 year statute of limitations, so was unable to file a malpractice suit.
State Medical Society Fighting the Bill, Citing Increased Health Care Costs
Not surprisingly, the Medical Society of the State of New York is opposed to the legislation. One official with the group says that it would increase the state’s already-high medical malpractice insurance rates and be “disastrous” for health care costs. She said, "Given that many hospitals and physicians all across New York State are barely able to keep their door open now ... any increases of this nature would prompt a very serious access-to-care problem."
With medical malpractice, as with just about any type of lawsuit alleging personal injury, it’s important to take action sooner rather than later. If you even begin to suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of malpractice, it may be worthwhile to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to find out what your options are and what actions you may need to take immediately to help ensure that you aren’t denied your right to seek justice.
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