If you believe you have been injured through a doctor's negligence or the negligence of a medical provider such as a hospital and you plan to take legal action, you need to act promptly. The law requires you to pursue legal remedies like medical malpractice claims as soon as possible consistent with time limits for filing a claim, known as the “statute of limitations.“ Patients who fail to file a claim within the statute of limitations may be prevented from ever bringing their claim in the future, regardless of the strength of their case.
It is imperative to consider the statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases.
What is the statute of limitations?
Statutes of limitations for medical malpractice actions vary based on the identity and nature of the person or entity being sued. For example, there is one time period if the doctor is employed in a federally funded health care center or hospital. There is a different time period if the hospital is a state or local governmental facility. Yet another time period applies with regard to a private physician, depending on the given case.
The time period required for initial filing can be as short as 90 days or as long as ten years. Your lawyer will need to discuss with you the facts of your case in order to know which statute of limitations will apply to your claim. Even then, more than one statute of limitations may well be involved. The most commonly applicable period within which a medical negligence claim must be pursued in New York State is two and a half years from the negligent act. That said, there are many exceptions to the rule that your lawyer will need to sort out in order to tell you what the statute of limitations is likely to be for your specific case.
Under certain circumstances, the time period can be extended. This, too, will depend on the particular facts of your case, including whether or not a child was involved, whether you continued to treat with the doctor for the same condition over a period of time or, in certain courts, when you discovered the negligence and the nature of your injury.
What if the injured party dies?
If medical negligence results in a death, there is a statute of limitations specific to that circumstance. Normally, the claim must be pursued within two years of the death. Again, there are many variances to that rule that only your lawyer will be able to sort out based on the particular facts of your case.
Ultimately, if you are concerned about the care you received or the care provided to a loved one, you need to contact a lawyer in order to give them as much detail as you have so they can help you determine when your time to bring the claim will expire. The sooner you talk to a lawyer, the better protected you will be in the long term.
Your right to your medical records
The first part of trying to determine whether or not you have a medical negligence claim is generally obtaining medical records. This may be done by the patient’s lawyer with authorization from the patient, or you may get the records yourself.
An important thing to keep in mind is that you have an absolute right to receive your medical records. Under New York State law, you have a right to your full medical records. An experienced lawyer will generally recommend that you ask to see copies of all of the notes your doctor has made, all the test results that have been received, and all of copies any radiology studies, because they may be critical in evaluating whether what was done was within the standard of care.
Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, located in Buffalo, is highly experienced in medical malpractice cases. The firm's lawyers investigate the complex procedures of medical providers to expose substandard care and seek justice for patients. Using demonstrated legal skills and medical knowledge, the firm's attorneys thoroughly analyze a client's medical history and records, intensively research the specific condition, and consult with leading medical experts.
Lipsitz Green is widely acclaimed by peers and clients alike. Our lawyers have been named "Top Listed in Buffalo, NY" for Medical Malpractice Law--Plaintiffs by Best Lawyers in America. If you believe you have the grounds for a case, please contact our highly qualified medical malpractice lawyers.
This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.