How long do I have to bring a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
The Statute of Limitations is the time period in which a lawsuit must be brought. In New York, the Statute of Limitations is two and one-half years (2 ½) from the date of the alleged medical malpractice. If the malpractice happened longer than two and half years ago, it is possible to extend that time. There are three primary methods for extending the deadline for when a malpractice case can be brought:
- The continuous treatment doctrine: If you continue to treat with a healthcare provider, the Statute of Limitation is tolled until the relationship is terminated. The reason for this toll is that people trust their doctors and rely on the relationship for their healthcare needs and are not expected to investigate potential cases when they believe that their provider is treating them to the best of their ability.
- The discovery rule: extends the statute of limitations to when the patient discovers or should have discovered that malpractice occurred. The classic case is the foreign object rule when for instance, a sponge, is left in a patient during a surgery.
- Minors: Children have their own cause of action for one year after turning 18, meaning that the Statute could be tolled from birth until the patient turns 19. In reality, investigating a malpractice case this far removed from the events is often very difficult.