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New York legislation proposes new time limit for medical lawsuits

Our readers may remember the story of a woman in Queens who was the victim of multiple emergency room mistakes in diagnosing her condition, before it was discovered that she had lung cancer. While the woman had been planning to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, she was unable to do so before her death due to New York law and time limits. According to the law, victims of urgent care errors and other medical mistakes must file within two and a half years for a private hospital and 15 months for a city hospital.

Because the woman's misdiagnosis was not discovered for over two years she was unable to seek any kind of compensation before passing away in March. This seems a bit unfair for patients since there is a level of trust between them and their doctors and the current limit leaves with them with no options in seeking any type of compensation for the years of pain and suffering and, in this case, valuable time lost in which timely treatment may have saved a life.

As a result, a councilman in New York is asking lawmakers to pass two bills that would lengthen the amount of time in which patients could file a medical malpractice lawsuit for emergency room errors. It is unknown what the proposed changes include but it appears to be a good idea and lawmakers should seriously think about the limitations that the current law creates for victims of medical errors before they make their vote. If the time limit had been longer in this case, the woman may have been able to hold her doctors financially responsible and obtain financial support for the teen daughter she has left behind.

Source: New York Daily News, “City Councilman James Vacca presses state lawmakers to pass 'Lavern's Law' to aid medical malpractice victims,” Heidi Evans, June 12, 2013

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