New York Medical Malpractice Laws & Statute of Limitations

New York laws and lawsuit filing requirements that will likely affect a medical malpractice case.

Updated by , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

If you're thinking about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in the state of New York, it helps to understand the laws and procedural rules that could come into play, including the time limits for filing these kinds of cases in New York's civil court system, and the "certificate of merit" that must accompany most medical malpractice lawsuits.

New York Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases

All states have very specific deadlines for filing medical malpractice lawsuits, set by laws called statutes of limitations. In New York, a lawsuit for medical malpractice usually must be filed within two years and six months of the underlying act of medical negligence. However, if the health care provider's mistake occurred as part of an "ongoing course of treatment," this 30-month statutory "clock" does not start running until that course of treatment is completed.

New York's Limited "Discovery" Rule

The discovery rule effectively extends the standard lawsuit-filing deadline in situations where the patient could not reasonably have learned that he or she had a viable medical malpractice case. In New York, the discovery rule is more limited than it is in other states. It applies in only two situations:

  • When a foreign object (such as a surgical sponge or instrument) was left in the patient's body, the malpractice lawsuit may be filed within one year after the date of discovery of the foreign object, or within one year of learning facts that would reasonably lead to discovery of the foreign object, whichever occurs earlier.
  • In cases involving an alleged failure to diagnose cancer, the 30-month filing deadline begins on the later of two dates: (1) at the conclusion of ongoing treatment, or (2) when the patient knew or should have known that the diagnostic error happened and caused the patient's injuries (but no later than seven years after the alleged negligence).

Statute Of Limitations for Minor Children

In New York, the statute of limitations for minor children in medical malpractice cases does not begin running until the child's eighteenth birthday, with one exception. Regardless of the child's age when the malpractice occurred, the statute of limitations cannot be extended more than ten years after the alleged malpractice occurred or after a foreign object in the patient's body was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.

Missing the Filing Deadline

If you do not file your medical malpractice lawsuit before the statute of limitations deadline has passed, you lose your right to sue the health care provider, unless you fall within one of the exceptions outlined under New York law. For example, the statute of limitations may be extended if the defendant health care provider left the state after committing the malpractice, or if the patient was mentally ill or mentally disabled at the time of the medical error.

The New York statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, and the exception for children, can be found at New York Civil Practice Law & Rules sections 214-A and 208.

No Limits on Medical Malpractice Damages in New York

Some states have legislative caps or limits on the amount of damages that can be awarded to a successful medical malpractice claimant. In New York, there are no such caps on the books.

New York Shared Fault Rules

In New York, if you go to trial and are found to be partially liable for your injuries, that finding will reduce your damages award. That's because New York follows a "pure comparative negligence" rule. So, if you are found to bear some amount of fault for your injury, illness, or medical condition (on top of the health care provider's fault) your award of damages is diminished in proportion to your share of blame. If, for example, you were awarded $100,000 in damages, but were found 20% at fault, your damages would be reduced to $80,000.

New York's "Certificate of Merit" Requirement for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

In New York, the plaintiff's lawyer in a medical malpractice lawsuit must file a written certificate of merit along with the lawsuit (or within 90 days of filing the lawsuit, if compliance with the statute of limitations is an issue). The certificate must state one of two things:

  1. that the lawyer has reviewed the facts of the case and has consulted with at least one licensed physician, and that the lawyer has concluded on the basis of the consultation that there is a reasonable basis for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, or
  2. that the lawyer is unable to comply with the consultation requirement despite making three separate "good faith" attempts at a consultation with three separate physicians.

Note that a plaintiff who is filing a medical malpractice lawsuit without a lawyer need not comply with this "certificate of merit" requirement. All of the details of this filing requirement can be found at New York Civil Practice Law & Rules section 3012-A.

To best understand how New York laws might affect your potential medical malpractice case, discuss your situation with an attorney. Learn more about meeting and working with a medical malpractice lawyer.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 175 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you