Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the statutes of limitation in medical malpractice claims. Here in Oregon, patients have just two years after becoming aware of injury to file a lawsuit. However, no medical malpractice lawsuits can be filed more than five years past the date of injury.
This is obviously not fair to all patients, as some malpractice-related health problems may not be discovered until many years after the fact. But, as we'll discuss today, some states have statutes of limitation that are even more restrictive to plaintiffs and/or less consistent.
In New York State, for example, patients have two-and-a-half years (30 months) to file a medical malpractice lawsuit starting from the date of injury (not when the injury was discovered). Not only is this timeline prohibitively short (for patients who don't learn of injuries right away), it also applies only to private hospitals. Patients have just 15 months to file suit against public hospitals.
Reform advocates are working to change state statutes of limitation, and New York legislators have been considering a bill that would "start the clock" at the discovery of injury rather than when the injury occurred. A news article on the bill does not make clear whether it would also lengthen the statute of limitations for public hospitals to make them consistent with private ones. In either case, the point it moot for now, as the bill seems to be stuck in legal limbo.
If you have been seriously injured or recently lost a loved one due to what may have been medical malpractice, you should know that waiting too long to take action could hinder your chances of pursuing compensation. Please consider discussing your case with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can better help you understand your rights and options.