New York Malpractice Lawyers
New York is one of the most populated states in the U.S., and New York City alone is home to 8.4 million. With thousands of doctors and hospitals to service this large population, medical negligence is a frequent occurrence and thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits are filed in New York’s civil courts each year.
Like all states, New York has its own unique set of common law and statutes governing the liability of healthcare professionals and the right of injured patients to sue them for malpractice.
Anyone considering a medical malpractice case in New York needs to understand certain aspects of the applicable laws because they can have a big impact on whether you have the right to sue and how much your case could be worth. The 3 New York laws that are most significant in malpractice cases are: (1) the statue of limitations for malpractice claims, (2) the “certificate of merit” requirement, and (3) the rules on shared fault.New York Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases
New York has a 30-month (2 years 6 months) statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. This means that if the plaintiff does not file their malpractice lawsuit with 2 years and 6 months after the date that the claim “arises” (i.e., the SOL “start date”), then their claim will be legally barred and they will lose the right to bring a medical malpractice case. NY CVP § 214(a).
The key questions when dealing with the New York statute of limitations for malpractice cases is determining when the 30-month period begins to run, or when the SOL start date is. In most states, the SOL begins to run on the date that the plaintiff discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) that they had a potential malpractice claim. This is known as the “discovery rule.”
New York has adopted a very limited version of the discovery rule for SOL purposes. In New York malpractice cases, the discovery rule only applies in 2 situations: (1) when a foreign object is left inside the body during surgery, and (2) in cases involving failure to timely diagnose cancer. In these 2 cases, the New York SOL begins to run when the plaintiffs knew or should have known about the malpractice. But even in these 2 cases, no claims can be filed later than 7 years after the alleged negligence occurs.
In all other New York medical malpractice cases, the discovery rule is not applicable. This means that the 30-month SOL period begins to run from the date that the medical negligence occurs (even if the plaintiff does not realize it until later).Exceptions to the New York Statute of Limitations in Malpractice Cases
There are 2 major exceptions that can extend the New York statute of limitations period in malpractice claims: (1) fraud; and (2) minority. The fraud exception applies if it can be shown that the doctor intentionally concealed the malpractice or prevented the plaintiff from discovering it (e.g., destroying medical records; lying about what happened, etc.). In this situation the limitations period can be "tolled" until the fraudulent concealment is overcome. The minority exception is applies when the plaintiff is a child (under 18) at the time of the injury, in which case the 30-month SOL does begin to run until they turn 18.Certificate of Merit Requirement for New York Malpractice Cases
Before filing any medical malpractice lawsuit in New York, all plaintiffs are required to obtain a “certificate of merit.” The certificate of merit is statement signed by the plaintiff’s lawyer which states that the lawyer has had the facts of the case reviewed by a qualified medical practitioner (i.e., another doctor in the same specialty field) and that practitioner agreed that medical negligence may have occurred. NY CVP § 3012-A.
This is a common procedural requirement that has been adopted by many states as a tool to prevent the filing of frivolous malpractice lawsuits. New York’s certificate of merit requirement is much easier to satisfy compared to other states.New York Follows Comparative Negligence
New York follows the law of pure comparative negligence in all tort cases, including medical malpractice cases. Under the pure comparative negligence rule, the amount of damages a plaintiff receives (i.e. how much money they get) can sometimes be reduced if the jury finds that the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to their injury.
For example, let’s say Jane sues her doctor for malpractice. The jury awards $100,000 in damages, but they find that Jane was 20% at fault for the injury and the doctor was 80% at fault. Jane’s damages will be reduced by her 20% share of fault, so she will only get $80,000 instead of $100,000. Under pure comparative fault, Jane can still get damages no matter how high her percentage of fault is. So even if the jury finds that Jane was 90% at fault, she will still get 10% of the damages.New York Medical Malpractice Verdicts & Settlements
Below are verdicts and reported settlements from recent medical malpractice cases in New York.
- $2,719,600 Verdict (2022 Richmond County): plaintiff allegedly suffered median nerve injury during negligently performed carpal tunnel corrective surgery. Jury in Richmond County awarded $2.7 million.
- $350,000 Verdict (2022 Suffolk County): 20-month old boy allegedly suffered permanent hearing loss from pediatrician’s negligent failure to timely diagnose and properly treat his ear infection condition.
- $1,450,000 Verdict (2022 Bronx County): 44-year-old male patient died from allegedly negligent failure of defendants to timely diagnose and treat his renal cancer due.
- $1,000,000 Verdict (2022 Richmond County): Jury in Richmond County awarded $1 million for wrongful death resulting from negligent failure to timely diagnose ovarian cancer.
- $2,100,000 Settlement (2021 Westchester County): failure to timely diagnose breast cancer results in death of 36-year-old woman after she had a mammogram that had suspicious findings. The radiologist negligently failed to communicate the results to primary care doctor. The case settled for $2.1 million.
- $4,500,000 Settlement (2020 Kings County): A radiologist identifies colon cancer on CT scans but negligently fails to directly notify the patient or referring doctor of the findings resulting in a 19-month delay in treatment.
- $2,195,264 Verdict (2020 Jefferson County): 7-year old boy suffered permanent brain damage when anesthesia caused an allergic reaction and malpractice case was brought against the anesthesiologist.
If you have a potential medical malpractice case in New York, call our attorneys today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation.