Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Claims in New York

Victims of medical malpractice in New York have a shortened time limit to be able to sue for their injuries.  Meeting the statute of limitations and all deadlines in your case is essential to getting your day in court and getting the compensation you need.

Victims of medical malpractice usually have 2 years and 6 months to sue for their negligent medical care.  This deadline is shortened from the 3 years that people usually have to sue for other types of injuries.  There may, however, be some situations where the deadline can be shortened or extended for a bit.  Making sure you work with a lawyer and act quickly to file your claim is vital in every medical malpractice case.

For a free review of your potential medical malpractice case, call the West Chester wrongful death lawyers at The Martello Law Firm.  Our phone number is (914) 685-6950.

Deadline to File Medical Malpractice Cases in New York

Nearly every type of lawsuit is controlled by a “statute of limitations” that says how long victims have to file their claim.  These laws often detail when the statute of limitations period begins running and how long it will run for, as well as any factors or issues that can pause the clock and give victims additional time to sue.

Under New York’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, found in CVP § 214-A(1), victims of medical malpractice must file their claims within 2 years and 6 months.  This deadline is shorter than the deadline for most injury cases, which typically have a 3-year filing deadline.

There is a special 1-year deadline to file cases involving objects left inside the body, so make sure to speak with a lawyer sooner in those cases.

What Needs to Be Filed for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in New York?

To “file” an injury lawsuit, you and your New York personal injury lawyer will typically file a “complaint” with the court and serve the defendant with a copy.  This document describes the injuries you faced and how they happened.  It also explains why the defendant is at fault.  However, medical malpractice claims also have an additional item you need to file in most cases.

When you file your medical malpractice case with the help of a West Chester personal injury lawyer, you must also file a “certificate of merit.”  This is a letter stating that your attorney has reviewed your claim with a doctor.  You must show that the doctor agrees that there is a “reasonable basis” on which to sue for malpractice for a claim to be filed.

In some situations, you can defer filing this letter until 90 days after the initial court filing under the rules of CVP § 3012-A(2) and the subsequent sections of that statute.  This letter is also unnecessary in some cases involving foreign objects left in the body, justifying the potentially shorter filing deadline in those cases.

When the Statute of Limitations Starts

In most cases, the statute of limitations period begins when the injury happens.  For example, if you had surgery and the doctor nicked an artery and you needed additional treatment and blood transfusions to treat the injury, the negligent care is often over and done with in the same day.  The statute of limitations period would start running right away in a case like that.

In some other cases, the negligent treatment is part of a course of treatment.  For example, in cases of failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, multiple mistakes and errors could contribute to your overall harm over the course of weeks, months, or years.  In cases dealing with a course of treatment, the statute of limitations clock starts running on the last day of the course of treatment.

In cases where the malpractice involves something left inside the body – often a sponge or a surgical tool – then the statute of limitations runs from the points that you discovered the object.  More specifically, it can begin running from the point you had enough facts that should have led to the discovery of the item.  Your Yonkers wrongful death lawyer can help pin down this exact date in your case.  Remember that, from that point, the statute of limitations is only 1 year instead of 2.5.

Lastly, there is a special exception for failure to diagnose cases involving cancer or malignant tumors.  In these cases, the 2.5-year clock begins running at the point when you knew or should have known about the misdiagnoses or on the last day of a continuous course of treatment.  In cases dealing with discovery of the misdiagnosis, you cannot file more than 7 years out from the misdiagnosis/failure to diagnose.  This law is sometimes called “Lavern’s Law” after a medical malpractice victim who died from misdiagnosed cancer.

Discovery Rule and Tolling the Statute of Limitations in New York Malpractice Cases

Many medical malpractice cases occur because of some obvious error or mistake the doctor made in treating the patient.  In some of these cases, the patient immediately knows that the doctor did something wrong and can seek a second opinion with a different doctor right away.  In other cases, a patient may believe that the problems were natural complications, and they might have no reason to second guess their physician.  That often means that they could go months or years without discovering that they were the victim of medical malpractice.

Discovery Rule

In cases where victims cannot reasonably discover the cause of their injury right away, some states allow the statute of limitations to be “tolled” or paused until the point when the victim does discover (or should have discovered) that their injury was caused by malpractice.  New York only extends the discovery rule to the cases discussed above.  Specifically, there are rules for foreign objects left in the body (giving victims 1 year from their discovery) or misdiagnosed cancer cases (giving the victim 2.5 years from their discovery or the end of the course of treatment).

Fraudulent Concealment

The statute of limitations might also be paused if the doctor took active steps to commit fraud to conceal that the cause of your injury was malpractice.  These claims have strict limits in New York, so speak with a Mount Vernon, NY personal injury lawyer about the particular facts of your case.


Victims of medical malpractice who were minors at the time of the malpractice can also pause the clock on the statute of limitations in their case.  While the case can be filed by a parent or guardian while the child is still under 18, victims can wait until they turn 18 to file the case on their own.  The statute of limitations starts running once the victim turns 18.

Mental Disabilities

There is also a similar exception for anyone with mental disabilities that prevent them from understanding and filing their case.  The statute of limitations is usually tolled for them until their disability ends.

Call Our New York Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one suffered injuries from medical malpractice in New York, call (914) 685-6950 for a free case review with the New Rochelle personal injury attorneys at The Martello Law Firm.

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