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New law facilitates filing of some medical malpractice suits

New York legislators and Gov. Cuomo recently agreed on an acceptable version of a new law that will assist patients with cancer who do not learn that the doctors made a mistake until after the statute of limitations has expired. Many patients have in the past been denied the right to sue their doctors for negligence because the patients did not discover the negligence until it was too late to seek damages. The new law will give a period of 2 1/2 years to file the medical malpractice lawsuit after the cancer patient discovers the error.

Errors in such situations can occur when tests are not accurately interpreted to spot a cancer growth, and in several other factual scenarios. In these cases, the patient often discovers that the cancer has become terminal and no longer subject to treatment. If the doctors had properly diagnosed the cancer in its early stages, however, the patient could have been cured or his or her life expectancy significantly increased by treatment.   

The amended bill also gives persons whose statute of limitations ran out in the past 10 months an extension of six more months to file suit. The original bill went back for seven years instead of just 10 months. The change was the result of the medical profession's lobbying efforts to oppose the seven-year look back.  

The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York was the main group that led the fight against the legislation. The group issued a statement lamenting that the law will increase the cost of medical liability insurance for the medical profession. The group opposes making it easier for victims of medical malpractice to be able to file suits and it has instead asked for a plan that would benefit all parties involved in the process. The interests of innocent patients who suffer death or substantial loss of life expectancy are supported by giving them a greater chance to seek monetary compensation after discovering that the doctors made a critical mistake in treatment.

Source: nydailynews.com, "Cuomo, N.Y. officials reach deal on Lavern's Law", Erin Durkin, Jan. 28, 2018

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