The law affords people harmed by the incompetence of their doctors the right to seek compensation in medical malpractice claims. Pursuant to New York law, though, they must do so within a certain time frame; otherwise, they will waive their right to recover damages. In a recent New York case, the court explained what the statute of limitations requires for medical malpractice claims. If you were harmed by incompetent medical care and you want to learn more about your rights, it is smart to consult a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney.
It is reported that in June 2021, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of medical malpractice and wrongful death. The complaint alleged that the decedent had been a patient at the hospital in 2015 and 2016 and passed away on June 23, 2018. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that it was time-barred. In support of its motion, the hospital presented unchallenged evidence indicating that the plaintiff’s family member was last admitted to the hospital in December 2017. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Statute of Limitations in New York Medical Malpractice Cases
On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it explained that in cases where the statute of limitations is at issue, the defendant must first establish, prima facie, that the time for commencing the action has expired. If this burden is met, it then shifts to the plaintiff to raise a question of fact regarding whether the statute of limitations was tolled or otherwise inapplicable or if the action was genuinely initiated within the applicable limitations period.
In the subject case, the court ruled that the defendant successfully demonstrated prima facie that the time for commencing the action had expired. Specifically, the complaint alleged malpractice in 2015 and 2016, making the June 2021 commencement untimely. Even assuming malpractice occurred in December 2017, the action was still initiated beyond the statutory limitations period for medical malpractice.
Furthermore, the plaintiff’s family member should have known about the alleged malpractice no later than December 2017, based on the discharge summary indicating a lung malignant tumor diagnosis. Considering that the plaintiff’s family member passed away in June 2018, the wrongful death action was also commenced outside the statutory limitations period.
In response to the defendant’s assertions, the court found that the plaintiff failed to raise a factual question in opposition to the hospital’s prima facie showing. The plaintiff’s argument that executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic tolled filing deadlines did not change the outcome, as even after excluding those days, the actions remained time-barred. Additionally, the plaintiff could not demonstrate that necessary facts for opposing the hospital’s motion could be revealed through discovery. Based on the foregoing, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Talk to a Dedicated Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical professionals are expected to provide their patients with adequate care, but unfortunately, they do not always do so. If you sustained injuries due to a reckless healthcare provider, you should talk to an attorney about whether you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers understand what it takes to prevail in claims against healthcare providers, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. We can be reached at 315-479-9000 or through the form online to schedule a conference.