When the clock starts ticking on malpractice suits in New York

Medical malpractice lawsuits in New York

In New York, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two and a half years of when an alleged error occurred. That’s different than in many states, where the date of discovery – the point when a patient becomes aware of a medical error or misdiagnosis – is when the clock starts ticking.

In recent years, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has introduced legislation to change that. Lawmakers dubbed the bill “Lavern’s Law” after Lavern Wilkinson, a woman who died of a curable form of lung cancer that was misdiagnosed and by the time her family put together a medical malpractice suit, the statute of limitations had passed. The legislation, which would also bar any suit more than 10 years after the original incident, passed the Assembly but died in the state Senate despite support on both sides of the aisle and from the governor. Here’s how New York’s medical malpractice law stacks up against other state statutes of limitations.

CASE                                 STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Petty offense                        1 year

Misdemeanor                      2 years

Medical malpractice           2.5 years

Property damage                 3 years

Robbery                                5 years

Manslaughter                      5 years

Fraud                                    6 years

Debt collection                    6 years

Murder, first degree            No time limit