The Tragic Results of New York’s Unfair Medical Malpractice Deadline

The statute of limitations is the deadline by which someone must file a lawsuit or forever lose his or her right to sue. In New York, the time for an adult to sue for medical malpractice expires two years and six months after the malpractice took place. If the malpractice took place in a City-owned hospital, the deadline is only 15 months from the malpractice. By contrast, the statute of limitations for contract lawsuits is six years and for property damages is three years. To make matters much worse, sometimes the New York medical malpractice statute of limitations runs out before the victim even knows that she has been a victim of malpractice. In which case, the victim is out of luck.

That is exactly what happened to Lavern Wilkinson, a 41 year-old mom, who was experiencing chest pain in 2010. She underwent a chest x-ray at her local hospital, which revealed a lung nodule that by 2012 developed into inoperable, terminal Stage IV lung cancer. Unfortunately, Ms. Wilkinson’s x-ray was not correctly interpreted in 2010 and she was told that her condition was not serious. By the time she learned the truth in 2012, it was too late. Having been deprived of her opportunity for timely treatment and a potential cure, Ms. Wilkinson passed away in March 2013, leaving behind a young daughter. Unfortunately, by the time Ms. Wilkinson learned or even had reason to suspect that she had been the victim of medical negligence, the antiquated New York laws made her lawsuit too late. Here is the story of the Lavern Wilkinson tragedy.

The vast majority of states and the Federal system have enacted the “discovery rule”, where the time to sue does not begin to run until the victim knows or should know that he or she was the victim of medical malpractice. The New York statute of limitations rule, which runs from the date of the malpractice needs to be changed.
I strongly recommend that you write to your state legislators and demand that New York’s out-of-date and unfair rule be changed.