In New York, medical malpractice cases must be filed within 15 months after the malpractice when the malpractice occurs at a city hospital, and two and a half years after the malpractice when the malpractice occurs at a private hospital. In Pennsylvania, where the statute of limitations for all medical malpractice suits is two years, and many other states, there is an exception. Under a legal doctrine known as the “Discovery Rule,” the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania does not begin to run until the patient knows, or reasonably should know, that they have been the victim of medical malpractice. Currently, there is no such rule in New York.
Recently, New York Councilman James Vacca introduced legislation which would toll the running of the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases until the patient could have reasonably discovered the malpractice, similar to provisions of the “Discovery Rule” in Pennsylvania and other states. Dubbed “Lavern’s Law,” the bill follows the death of Lavern Wilkinson, who died this year from lung cancer following a two-year delay in diagnosis. Unfortunately for Ms. Wilkinson, the statute of limitations expired before she even knew she had the cancer. A “Discovery Rule,” such as the one that exists in Pennsylvania, and the one proposed under the pending New York bill, would have tolled the running of the statute of limitations until Ms. Wilkinson became aware of her diagnosis.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been injured as a result of medical malpractice, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Stark & Stark.