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New York Court Discusses Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in Malpractice Suits

Medical malpractice cases in New York, like all other New York cases, must be filed within the timeframe proscribed by the statute of limitations, otherwise, the plaintiff may lose the right to recover compensation. While medical malpractice claims must be commenced within two and a half years from the date of harm, when a lawsuit is instituted after the injured party’s death, there may be a dispute over when the statute of limitations begins to run. This was demonstrated in a recent New York case in which the plaintiff’s decedent died due to complications from cancer. If you were diagnosed with cancer and subsequently sustained injuries due to the carelessness of the doctor responsible for your treatment, it is important to speak to a skillful Syracuse oncology malpractice attorney promptly to avoid waiving your right to recover damages.

Factual and Procedural History

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent was treated by the defendants for cancer. He ultimately passed away due to complications related to his cancer in August 2015. In May of 2016, the plaintiff instituted an action against the defendants alleging claims of medical malpractice and wrongful death arising out of their treatment of the decedent. Specifically, the complaint alleged the defendants were negligent during the decedent’s hospitalization in July and August 2013. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit, arguing that her claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Statute of Limitations in New York for Wrongful Death Claims in Malpractice Suits

Under New York law, when someone entitled to pursue a claim dies, the representative of his or her estate can pursue a claim on behalf of the estate within one year of the person’s death. In the subject case, the plaintiff demonstrated that she was granted letters of administration in February of 2016, and she commenced the claim by May of 2016. As such, the appellate court ruled that she pursued her claims within the time afforded by law.

Further, the appellate court disagreed with the trial court’s evaluation that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court determined the plaintiff’s claims accrued in November 2013, two and a half years before the claim was filed, rather than in February 2013, two and half years before the decedent’s death.  The appellate court explained, however, that because the decedent had a valid cause of action at the time of his death that was based on acts that occurred on or after February 2013, and the wrongful death action was commenced within two years of the decedent’s death, it was timely. Similarly, the appellate court deemed the medical malpractice claims timely as well and overturned the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Seasoned Attorney in Syracuse

If you suffered an injury or illness due to the incompetent care of your oncologist, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney to evaluate whether you may be able to recover compensation. The seasoned Syracuse oncology malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at handling the complexities of malpractice claims, and we will fight to help you seek to protect your interests. You can reach us at 315-479-9000 or through the form online to schedule a conference.

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