Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitations
According to a 2016 study released by Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical errors cause 10 percent of all American deaths every year. In fact, medical errors are thought to be the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. This is why the Brooklyn, NY medical malpractice lawyers of Zucker & Regev take all medical negligence cases so seriously.
It’s important to file a medical malpractice lawsuit as soon as you are able to. Failure to file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations can leave you and your loved ones without any legal options. We would like to cover the basics of medical malpractice case statutes of limitations so you have a better understanding of the various deadlines in place.
Why Statutes of Limitations Are in Place
A statute of limitations is a set amount of time during which a lawsuit can be filed. Most civil cases have a set statute of limitations in place. There are no statutes of limitations for serious criminal actions, such as murder.
It may seem unfair to have a statute of limitations, but they serve an important function. First of all, they ensure that viable lawsuits are filed in a timely manner, which avoid clogging up the court system. Secondly, they ensure that any evidence and medical records are available to check. Thirdly, they help ensure witness testimony is not affected by lapses in memory over time.
The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
If you have experienced an injury from a medical error in Brooklyn or anywhere in New York State, you have 30 months (2.5 years) to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Once that 30-month timeframe has passed, you will not be able to seek a legal action against the negligent doctor, surgeon, or medical facility. This holds even if you had an open and shut case regarding a medical mistake.
The Importance of the Discovery Rule
The so-called “discovery rule” applies to medical malpractice lawsuits with regard to the statute of limitations. This means that the statute of limitations starts once the injury is discovered. This is an important distinction since the repercussions of a medical mistake may not be evident until months or even years later.
For example, say that a person complains to a doctor of chronic headaches. The doctor prescribes pain medication. Years later, the patient is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the headaches were in fact the first indication of the tumor. Because the tumor was not discovered until years after an initial diagnosis could have been made, the statute of limitations kicks in only when the tumor is diagnosed.
Discuss Your Case with an Attorney as Soon as Possible
Even though you have 30 months to file your medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. This will ensure your case moves forward as soon as possible.
Speak with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury because of a doctor or surgeon’s negligence, be sure to contact a skilled medical malpractice attorney. Our Brooklyn law firm is here to help you understand how to proceed, if you should accept a settlement, and if you should go to trial with your case. Zucker & Regev can be reached by phone at (718) 747-9283.