How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Case in New York Take?
Medical malpractice cases start like any other personal injury case: Someone does something negligent or reckless, and you are injured as a result. A resulting lawsuit can take months or years, with timelines varying widely depending on the nature and circumstances of the case. However, there are certain factors specific to medical malpractice that may affect the timeline as compared to other personal injury cases, and there are additional deadlines and complications that anyone considering a malpractice case should bear in mind. An experienced New York medical malpractice attorney can give you a more targeted estimation of the specific timeline for your case if you or a family member has been injured or killed by a negligent doctor.
Filing a Certificate of Merit
Medical malpractice cases are different from typical personal injury cases in that they must be filed with a “certificate of merit.” The certificate asserts that the plaintiff’s attorney has reviewed the facts of the case and consulted with at least one licensed physician and has determined that there is a reasonable basis to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The attorney can alternatively file a statement asserting they were unable to consult with a physician despite making “good faith” attempts to consult with at least three physicians. The need to consult with an expert, licensed physician in advance of filing can delay the process a bit as compared to other personal injury cases.
All cases involve discovery, meaning the process of requesting and receiving evidence from the other parties. Typical slip-and-fall cases, for example, may not require much discovery: A building plan, a few witness statements, a video, and medical records may be the lion’s share of what is needed. Medical malpractice cases can instead be much more complicated. Not only must the plaintiff prove that they were injured, unjustly, as a result of the physician’s conduct, but they also must prove that the defendant’s conduct was outside the scope of reasonable conduct for a physician under the circumstances. This requires retaining medical experts in the field, getting detailed records from the hospital or medical office, and obtaining medical evidence sufficient to show the extent of the current injury and future potential complications as a result of the malpractice. Medical malpractice cases can linger in discovery longer than other personal injury cases as a result.
An out-of-court settlement can greatly speed up the process of resolving your medical malpractice case. An insurance company may choose to settle if they realize they are fighting a losing case or believe that they will spend more money litigating than settling. The settlement process can last from a couple of months to a year, but it will likely be much faster than going to trial.
Statute of Limitations
Each state has its own time limits within which a plaintiff must bring a personal injury claim. The time limit is called the statute of limitations. If you wait too long to bring your lawsuit, then you forfeit your right to bring a claim. The statute of limitations for bringing a medical malpractice case in New York is two-and-a-half years from the date of the act that caused your injury. For an individual procedure such as a botched surgery, the limitations period begins on the date of the procedure. For continuous treatment that is collectively medical malpractice, the limitations period begins to run at the end of the treatment, meaning you have 30 months from the last day of treatment.
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice carries a few additional twists: The period can be delayed if you could not have reasonably known of the malpractice when the medical professional acted. Instead, the period begins to run when you discover, or reasonably should have discovered, that the malpractice occurred. Additionally, in cases where a doctor leaves a foreign object in a patient’s body, you have one year after discovering the object to bring the lawsuit. Minor children also benefit from a special rule: The limitations period begins to run when they turn 18, although there is an outside limit of 10 years from the date of injury.
Get Professional Legal Help with New York Medical Malpractice Claims
If you or someone you love has been the victim of medical malpractice in New York, find out if you have a right to compensation for your injuries by contacting the experienced, effective and skilled Hudson Valley personal injury lawyers at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a free consultation at 845-331-4100 (Kingston) or 845-236-4411 (Marlboro).