It helps to be aware of the laws and procedural requirements that might apply if you’re considering bringing a medical malpractice claim in the state of New York, such as the deadlines for bringing these cases before New York’s civil courts and the “certificate of merit” that must be submitted with the majority of such claims. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about New York medical malpractice laws and statute of limitations.
What Are Statutes of Limitations?
Statutes of limitations are laws that place a time limit on the right to bring legal action. They are designed to ensure that claims are brought forward in a timely manner, while the evidence is still available and the events are still fresh in people’s memories. The purpose of statutes of limitations is to balance the right of individuals to seek justice against the right of defendants to be free from the burden of defending against stale claims.
Statutes of limitations vary depending on the type of legal action and jurisdiction. For example, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in one state may be different from the statute of limitations for the same type of claim in another state. In general, the statutes of limitations for civil claims, such as personal injury or contract disputes, are typically longer than the statutes of limitations for criminal charges, such as robbery or murder.
In some cases, the statute of limitations may begin to run from the date of the incident or discovery of the injury. In other cases, the statute of limitations may be tolled or postponed, due to specific circumstances, such as the minority of the victim or the concealment of the wrongdoer.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations is not a defense to the underlying claim. Instead, it operates as a bar to the right to bring the claim. If a claim is brought after the statute of limitations has expired, the defendant may raise the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense, and the court may dismiss the case.
What Are The 3 Types Of Medical Malpractice?
The three main types of medical malpractice are:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a medical condition, misdiagnoses a condition, or fails to diagnose a condition in a timely manner, resulting in harm to the patient.
- Surgical errors: This occurs when a healthcare provider makes a mistake during surgery that results in injury to the patient. Examples include performing the wrong procedure, damaging surrounding tissues or organs, or leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body.
- Treatment errors: This occurs when a healthcare provider provides inappropriate or incorrect treatment, such as prescribing the wrong medication, failing to properly monitor a patient’s condition, or providing treatment that is contraindicated for the patient’s condition.
It’s important to note that these are general categories and there are many different types of medical malpractice. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, it’s important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine your rights and options.
New York Statute Of Limitations For Medical Malpractice Cases
Statutes of limitations are rules that provide very strict time frames for filing medical malpractice claims in each state. A medical malpractice case in New York typically needs to be filed within two years and six months of the initial instance of medical negligence. The 30-month statutory “clock” does not begin ticking, nevertheless, until the course of treatment that the health care provider’s error was a part of has been finished.
New York’s Limited “Discovery” Rule
When a patient is unable to reasonably have known that they have a strong medical malpractice case, the discovery rule effectively extends the regular lawsuit filing date. The discovery rule is more restrictive in New York than it is in other states. Only two circumstances are covered by it:
- If a patient’s body contained a foreign object (like a surgical sponge or instrument), the malpractice lawsuit must be filed within a year of the date the foreign object was found, or within a year of learning information that could reasonably have led to the discovery of the foreign object, whichever comes first.
- The 30-month filing period for lawsuits involving an alleged failure to diagnose cancer begins on the later of two dates: (1) when continuing treatment is complete, or (2) when the patient knows or should have known that the diagnostic error occurred and resulted in the patient’s injuries (but no later than seven years after the alleged negligence).
Statute Of Limitations For Minor Children
With one exception, the statute of limitations for minor children involved in medical malpractice cases does not start to run until the child becomes eighteen in New York. The statute of limitations cannot be extended more than ten years after the alleged malpractice occurred or after a foreign item in the patient’s body was detected or reasonably should have been discovered, regardless of the age of the child at the time the malpractice occurred.
Missing the Filing Deadline
Unless you fall under one of the exceptions specified by New York law, if you do not file your medical malpractice claim before the statute of limitations time has expired, you forfeit your opportunity to sue the healthcare provider. For instance, if the defendant’s healthcare professional fled the state after committing the malpractice or if the patient was mentally ill or otherwise incapacitated at the time of the medical mistake, the statute of limitations may be extended.
The New York statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, and the exception for children, can be found in New York Civil Practice Law & Rules sections 214-A and 208.
New York’s “Sliding Scale” Limit on Medical Malpractice Attorney’s Fees
The amount of remuneration your lawyer can receive for advocating for you is restricted by a contentious New York statute. When a lawyer agrees to represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit on a “contingency fee,” they consent to accept a fixed percentage of whatever financial compensation you receive, whether in the form of a settlement or following a civil trial. The lawyer doesn’t get paid if you don’t “win” (although you should always read the fine print to see if you’re still responsible for “costs” and other case-related fees).
A sliding scale “limit” on the percentage that a lawyer can receive as a fee following a successful medical malpractice case is imposed by New York Judiciary Law section 474-A. As the settlement or award’s overall value rises, the percentage the attorney can receive decreases.
Here are the details:
- The attorney can take 30 percent of the first $250,000 that the medical malpractice plaintiff receives.
- The attorney can take 25 percent of the next $250,000.
- The attorney can take 20 percent of the next $500,000.
- The attorney can take 15 percent of the next $250.000.
- The attorney can take 10 percent of any amount over $1.25 million.
No Limits on Medical Malpractice Damages in New York
The amount of damages that can be awarded to a successful medical malpractice claimant is governed by legislative ceilings or limits in some states. There are no such restrictions in place in New York.
New York Shared Fault Rules
In New York, the rule of comparative negligence applies in personal injury cases. This means that if an injured party was partially at fault for their own injuries, their recovery may be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault.
For example, if a person is involved in a car accident and is found to be 25% at fault for their own injuries, their recovery from the other driver may be reduced by 25%. This means that if their damages were valued at $100,000, they would only be able to recover $75,000 from the other driver.
In New York, the rule of contributory negligence applies in product liability cases. This means that if an injured party was even 1% at fault for their own injuries, they may be barred from recovering damages from the defendant. This is a stricter standard compared to the rule of comparative negligence in personal injury cases.
It’s important to note that in both cases, the burden of proof is on the defendant to demonstrate that the injured party was at fault. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist in determining the applicability of the shared fault rules and in determining the extent of an injured party’s fault.
New York’s “Certificate of Merit” Requirement for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
In New York, a “certificate of merit” is a requirement for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. A certificate of merit is a document that is filed along with the complaint, attesting to the fact that the plaintiff has consulted with a medical expert who has reviewed the case and concluded that there is a reasonable basis for the lawsuit. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent frivolous lawsuits and to ensure that cases are only brought forward if there is a credible claim of medical malpractice.
The medical expert who provides the certificate of merit must be licensed to practice medicine in the state of New York and must have experience in the same or similar specialty as the defendant. The expert must also provide a written statement detailing the specific acts of negligence that occurred and how they caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
In addition to the certificate of merit, the plaintiff must also provide a detailed complaint outlining the factual and legal basis of the case. The complaint must also specify the nature of the plaintiff’s injuries and the damages being sought.
It’s important to note that failure to comply with the certificate of merit requirement can result in the dismissal of the case. It’s also important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to determine the applicability of this requirement and to assist in obtaining a certificate of merit.
Is There A Medical Malpractice Cap In New York?
Yes, there is a cap on the number of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases in New York. The cap is $250,000 for pain and suffering and $500,000 for wrongful death cases. This means that in a medical malpractice case, the amount awarded for pain and suffering or for wrongful death cannot exceed $250,000 or $500,000 respectively. However, in some cases, these caps may be increased or eliminated depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if the medical professional’s conduct was particularly egregious, the cap may be lifted. Additionally, the cap may be increased if the injury results in permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a body organ or member, or significant limitation of use of a body function.
In New York Medical Malpractice Cases, Who Is Responsible?
In New York, in medical malpractice proceedings, the hospital or healthcare facility that is thought to have caused the patient’s pain or injury is often held accountable. This can include medical professionals like doctors and nurses as well as healthcare infrastructure like hospitals and clinics. Multiple parties, such as a doctor and a hospital or a nurse and a clinic, may occasionally be held accountable for a patient’s suffering or injury.
It’s also important to keep in mind that, in some circumstances, a medical device or pharmaceutical company’s maker may also be held accountable if their product results in harm or injury. The court will decide whether the healthcare institution or practitioner strayed from the established standard of care and if that departure resulted in harm or injury in a medical negligence lawsuit. The patient may be entitled to remuneration for their losses and expenses, such as medical bills, missed wages, and pain and suffering if the court finds that the healthcare facility or provider is at fault.