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New York’s Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases

New York’s Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases

It is devastating to have a medical condition that is made worse at the hands of an incompetent doctor. If such a case arises, a patient can bring a suit against the doctor for malpractice for the injuries they caused. However, patients must be aware that New York imposes strict time limits on medical malpractice cases called statutes of limitation. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney as quickly as possible after the malpractice arose.

In accordance with New York's CPLR (Civil Practice Law and Rules), a plaintiff has 2.5 years to commence a medical malpractice case. The statute of limitations is measured from the date the malpractice occurred. An exception to this time limitation, however, is the doctrine of continuous treatment. If the malpractice arose from treatment for the same condition by the same doctor that took place over a period of time, the statute of limitations only runs from the termination of the treatment. In that case, a plaintiff would also have 2.5 years to bring a medical malpractice action from the time the patient ceased visiting that doctor for treatment, but only for injuries that occurred in that 2.5 year span.

Another exception to the medical malpractice statute of limitation is New York's foreign object rule. A foreign object is defined as an object that was left in the body, not for the purposes of treatment. For example, a device that the doctor used to perform the surgery such as scissors, a scalpel, etc. would be considered a foreign object. A device that was implanted for medical purposes such as a prosthetic aid, pace maker, or other fixation device would not be considered a foreign object.

If a patient discovers that he has a foreign object in his body, he is provided with an additional 1 year to commence a suit from the date of discovery. This can be advantageous if the 2.5 year medical malpractice statute of limitation time has already run. However, if the medical malpractice statute of limitation provides a longer time for the plaintiff to bring suit, it may be used as an alternative to the foreign object discovery statute of limitation.
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