What Is the New York Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

Question

What is the New York statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits?

Answer

First things first. For those who are new to the language of “legalese,” a “statute of limitations” is a specific kind of law that puts a strict time limit on your right to file a lawsuit in your state’s civil court system after you have suffered some type of injury or loss. There are different deadlines depending on the kind of case you’re filing.

Like many states, New York has passed a specific statute of limitations for application to medical malpractice cases: New York Civil Practice Law and Rules section 214-a.

This rule says that, starting from the day when you were injured or harmed because of a health care professional’s medical error, you have two and a half years to get your lawsuit filed in New York. However, if the malpractice occurred as part of a continuing course of treatment, the statute of limitations is "tolled" (meaning that the 30-month “clock” doesn’t start running) until the date of your last treatment.

New York uses what's known as the "discovery rule" in two specific types of medical malpractice cases:

  • When the alleged malpractice is based on a foreign object that was left in your body (during surgery, for example), you have up to one year to file the lawsuit after (1) you discover that happened, or (2) you learn facts that "would reasonably lead" to such a discovery, whichever is earlier.
  • If your medical malpractice case is based on a health care provider's negligent failure to diagnose cancer, you must file the lawsuit within 30 months after (1) the date you knew or should've known about the negligence and that it caused your injuries (but no more than seven years after the negligence), or (2) the last treatment in a continuous course of treatment for your original health problem, whichever is later.

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is also tolled under some other circumstances. For instance, New York Civil Practice Law and Rules section 208 says that in cases involving plaintiffs (those filing the lawsuit) who were minor children or were insane, the time to file a lawsuit may be extended until they turn 18 or are no longer mentally disabled—but not more than 10 years after the alleged malpractice.

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