Laverne’s Law Shelved For Another Year In Legislature

Justice is served

A bill to change the statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits in favor of victims once again died in legislation this year.

The bill, known as Laverne’s Law, would give malpractice victims more time to file complaints and seek monetary restitution. However, state lawmakers were unable to come to a consensus for a second year in a row, leaving Laverne’s Law in limbo at the end of this year’s session.

Changing statute of limitations laws

Laverne’s Law would change how the statute of limitations would work in New York. Currently victims of malpractice have two-and-one-half years from the time the medical error occurred to file their lawsuit. Unfortunately, many victims of these accidents are unaware that a problem even exists within this time frame. Laverne’s Law would change the statute of limitations to two-and-a-half years from the time the malpractice was discovered by the victim: the same statute of limitations that has been adopted by 44 other states in the U.S.

The bill was named after Laverne Wilkinson, a 41-year-old single mother from Brooklyn. Wilkinson died in 2013 from a highly treatable form of lung cancer. The problem is that the disease was originally misdiagnosed, leaving Wilkinson without the treatment she needed until the cancer had spread. The delayed diagnosis and treatment meant the difference between life and death for Wilkinson, who left behind a disabled teenage daughter now being cared for by an aunt.

Caring for surviving children

In an effort to give her daughter the needed compensation to ensure proper care after her death, Wilkinson sought legal action against the hospital and staff that misdiagnosed her cancer. It was then that Wilkinson realized the statute of limitations on malpractice lawsuits left her without legal recourse.

Last year, Laverne’s Law passed the State Assembly but failed to make it through the Senate. At the time, the bill was strongly opposed by the medical establishment in the state, which argued other states with a statute of limitations that began once the malpractice was discovered also had laws in place to limit pain and suffering awards and total damages. New York’s bill did not include any such limitations.

This year, the Assembly delayed a vote on Laverne’s Law until after the Senate made their decision. The Senate was unable to come to consensus on the new statute of limitations, which prevented the bill from progressing.  The lack of consensus came even after backing of the bill by GOP Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco and considerable debate among Senate Republicans.

Laverne’s Law would help others

Wilkinson was not the only one that has been kept from pursuing legal action due to New York’s somewhat unique statute of limitations. The New York law has also prohibited Elissa McMahon from filing a lawsuit after she was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer approximately two years ago. After her diagnosis, McMahon discovered her cancer had been misdiagnosed two years prior, at a time when the disease could have been effectively treated.

The New York Daily News reports that McMahon is also a single mother to a teenage son. While she initially hoped to pursue damages her son could use after she was gone, McMahon is now advocating for other families that may find themselves in similar situations.

Seeking legal action early

If you have suffered at the hands of hospital negligence, early action could make all the difference in your eligibility in filing a lawsuit. Contact The Sanders Firm at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to get a complimentary case evaluation. Find out if you are eligible to file a lawsuit in search of compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. Resources

  1. New York Daily News, Bill to Help Medical Malpractice Victims Fails Again in NY Legislature,
  2. New York Daily News, Cancer Patient Who Can’t Sue after Misdiagnosis Because of Statute of Limitations Says She Wants Lawmakers to Pass Laverne’s Law,
  3. New York Daily News, Dozens of Groups Try to Revive Push for Approval of Laverne’s Law,