According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer. Even though medical errors kill around 200,000 people annually in the U.S., only 15 percent of personal injury lawsuits result in medical malpractice claims. Many patients are unaware they have been the victims of medical malpractice.
Here’s what you need to know and what to do if you are a victim of medical malpractice in New York.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Understanding what constitutes medical malpractice is the crucial first step. A successful lawsuit contains several elements that the plaintiff has the burden to prove:
- A legitimate provider-patient relationship establishing a “duty” of care.
- Medical care—or lack thereof—that fell below the accepted medical standards.
- A causal connection between the provider’s actions or inactions and the patient’s harm.
- Damages to the patient.
Statute of Limitations
An important consideration is the statute of limitations. The New York Civil Practice Law and Rules Section 214-a states the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. This rule states that a victim of medical malpractice within the state of New York has two and a half years to file a lawsuit. However, if the malpractice occurred in relation to a continuing course of treatment, the two-and-a-half-year provision begins after the original treatment has ended. However, there are municipal hospitals where the time limit is much shorter. So while two-and-a-half-years is a general rule you should speak to a New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer immediately to make sure that you still have time to start a case.
New York has another unique rule for cases in which a foreign object was left inside the patient’s body, such as during surgery. If the foreign object was discovered after the initial statute of limitations has expired, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date that the object was discovered, or the date of discovery of facts that would reasonably lead to the objects’ discovery—whichever is earlier.
Virtually every medical malpractice case requires medical experts to prove negligence by the health care provider. Locating such experts is difficult; however, experienced medical malpractice attorneys typically have a repertoire of medical experts in every specialty with whom they have worked before. When speaking with a potential lawyer, make sure that he or she has adequate experience with medical malpractice claims and has access to quality experts.
If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, hiring an attorney offers the best chance of ensuring you are fully compensated for your injuries. Due to the specialized nature of these cases, it is imperative that you find a lawyer with proven experience in medical malpractice cases. Please contact us for more information or to schedule a free consultation to get the justice you deserve.