Albany Won’t Amend New York Medical Malpractice Laws This Year

Lawmakers in Albany failed to vote on a pair of bills that would have amended New York medical malpractice laws to fix a serious flaw that deprives victims of the right to seek fair compensation. Supporters of the proposed “Lavern’s Law,” named after a Brooklyn woman who died because of hospital malpractice, hope that the New York State Senate and Assembly will vote on the bills when they come into session again in 2014.

NY malpractice lawyers call the current legislation cruel because of the way it limits the time frame in which victims and their families can file lawsuits in malpractice cases, a limitation which left Lavern Wilkinson’s 15-year-old autistic daughter without the financial support needed for her care in her mother’s absence.

A case of fatal hospital malpractice

Lavern Wilkinson came to the Kings County Hospital emergency room in 2010 complaining of chest pain. She was given a chest X-ray which showed a mass in her right lung, but she wasn’t given the results of the X-ray. Instead, she was sent home by an inexperienced doctor. The mass turned out to be early-stage lung cancer, which was operable and which doctors say could most likely have been cured completely if it had been treated at the time it was found.

Wilkinson returned to the hospital in 2012 with a chronic cough. A new chest X-ray showed that the cancer had spread from her right lung to her left lung, liver, brain, and spine. Doctors diagnosed Wilkinson with terminal cancer and predicted she would have six to twelve months left. Ten months later she passed away.

No compensation for deadly medical error

After her diagnosis, Wilkinson spoke with NY malpractice lawyers, but was told that New York’s statute of limitations had expired long before Wilkinson even found out about the medical error that allowed her cancer to become terminal. New York State law gives malpractice victims only 15 months to file a lawsuit if the malpractice was committed at a municipal hospital, and begins the 15 month countdown from the date the medical error is committed. Since Wilkinson only found out about the error after this 15 month window had closed, she was barred from filing a lawsuit.

Lavern’s Law dies in Albany

Because of the Wilkinson trial, lawmakers in Albany began considering bringing New York medical malpractice laws into step with the laws of 44 other states, which base the statute of limitations on the date the medical malpractice is discovered, not the date it is committed. Supporters of the bill point out that if Lavern’s Law had been in effect when Wilkinson was misdiagnosed, she would have been able to win enough money to provide for the care of her disabled daughter, who requires help with many day-to-day tasks and now has no living relatives to take care of her. Opponents say that if the bill passed, malpractice insurance rates would rise to unacceptable levels and put strain on the already financially stressed municipal hospitals. The bill was not brought to a vote after legislators determined it did not have enough votes to pass.

Don’t delay talking to a lawyer

Because of New York’s stringent statute of limitations, it is important that victims of medical malpractice talk to a New York malpractice lawyer right away. At The Sanders Firm, NY malpractice lawyers are always ready to pursue a case quickly and efficiently and get justice for victims to the fullest extent allowed by law. Call The Sanders Firm at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY for a free consultation.