How could “Laverne’s Law” change medical malpractice suits?
Lavern Wilkinson of Brooklyn, New York, died in 2013 from a type of lung cancer many people believe she could have survived, had a cancerous mass found in 2010 on an X-ray not been ignored. By the time Wilkinson was aware of the cancer, the statute of limitations in New York prevented her from filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital or the doctors for their oversight. Laverne’s Law, which passed in the Assembly but failed to make it to the Senate floor during the last New York legislative session, would expand the time you would have to file a lawsuit if you found yourself the victim of medical malpractice.
If passed, the legislation would give you three years from the date of the discovery of the medical error to file a suit. Currently, if you are a patient in a public hospital and you receive an incorrect diagnosis, you have 15 months to file a lawsuit. However, if you do not discover the disease or health issue that relates to the medical error until after the 15 months are up, you lose the opportunity to file a suit, even if the results are fatal.
The New York Daily News reported that 44 states already incorporate a date of discovery of medical malpractice into their statute of limitation laws. The other five that do not, besides New York, include Maine, Minnesota, Idaho, Arkansas and South Dakota.
With or without Lavern’s Law, medical malpractice would still need to be established through certain criteria. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, you would need to provide evidence that the doctor or doctors had an obligation to provide you with a standard of care. You would then need to demonstrate that the medical care was insufficient. You are required to show compensable injury, and that the injury came about or was exacerbated by doctor omission or negligence.
This information is meant for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice.