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Court Explains Statute of Limitations in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Incompetent medical care often causes significant injuries and, in some instances, can tragically lead to fatal harm. While the surviving family members can pursue claims against the responsible physicians, they must act promptly; otherwise, they may lose the right to recover damages, as illustrated in a recent New York opinion. If you lost a loved one due to negligent medical care, it is smart to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your rights.

Case Background

Allegedly, the plaintiff initiated legal action as the proposed administratrix of the estate of the decedent. However, at the time of filing on February 1, 2023, the plaintiff had not yet obtained letters of administration, rendering her without the standing to sue, as required under New York law. The complaint alleged negligence and violations of the Public Health Law, specifically referencing personal injuries, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the defendant’s acts or omissions. The defendant raised the statute of limitations defense, asserting that the action was time-barred.

Statute of Limitations in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Upon reviewing the complaint, the court acknowledged that it adequately alleged a cause of action for negligence and a violation of a statutorily conferred right in the Public Health Law. However, the court addressed the statute of limitations defense, noting that the causes of action for wrongful death and medical malpractice were time-barred. The court noted that the relevant statutes provide a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death and a two-year and six-month statute of limitations for medical malpractice.

Considering tolling due to Executive Orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, the court determined that the wrongful death claim, if accrued before March 20, 2020, was untimely, as the complaint was filed on February 1, 2023. Similarly, the medical malpractice claim was deemed untimely.

The court recognized, however, that causes of action for negligence or to recover upon a liability created or imposed by statute, with a three-year statute of limitations, were timely if the acts or omissions occurred within the three years prior to filing, even without the tolling period. As a result, the court granted leave to recommence pursuant to these specific causes of action. The court clarified, though, that the recommencement should be limited to the timely causes of action and excluded claims sounding in wrongful death or medical malpractice.

Consult an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Physicians have a duty to provide patients with appropriate care, but sadly, not all doctors live up to their obligations, and their patients often suffer harm as a result of their recklessness. If you or a loved one were hurt by the incompetence of a doctor, you may be able to recover damages in a  medical malpractice case, and you should consult an attorney. The experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your options for seeking any compensation available. You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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