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New York Court Discusses Timeliness of Medical Malpractice Claims

People who experience losses due to the carelessness of healthcare providers have the right to pursue claims for damages. They must act promptly, though, because if they do not, their claims may be barred by the statute of limitations. While legal theories, like the relation back doctrine, can act to toll the statute of limitations, they only apply if certain conditions are met, as discussed in a recent New York ruling issued in a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you have questions pertaining to pursuing claims against negligent medical professionals, it is wise to speak with a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice complaint that stemmed from the care and treatment of the decedent’s lower extremity during February and March 2015. Initially, the action was filed against two of the named defendants. However, the third defendant received a subpoena to testify as a non-party witness in October 2018, indicating the plaintiff’s awareness of the third defendant’s involvement in the decedent’s care. Subsequently, in April 2023, the plaintiff amended the complaint to include the third defendant.

Reportedly, the third defendant subsequently filed a motion to dismiss a supplemental summons and amended complaint alleging medical malpractice, lack of informed consent, and wrongful death, contending that the claims were time-barred by the statute of limitations.

Timeliness of Medical Malpractice Claims

Under New York law, a medical malpractice action must be initiated within two years and six months from the date of the alleged malpractice. Additionally, a wrongful death action must be commenced within two years.

Here, the plaintiff relied on the “relation back” doctrine to avoid dismissal, which allows a claim against a newly added defendant to relate back to claims against a co-defendant if certain conditions are met. These conditions include arising from the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence, unity of interest between the defendants, and the new party’s actual or constructive knowledge of the action. However, the doctrine does not apply if there was no mistake on the part of the plaintiff regarding the identity of the proper party.

In this case, the court found that while the first two conditions were met, the plaintiff’s late addition of the defendant did not result from a mistake. The defendant’s involvement was known to the plaintiff before the amendment, as evidenced by the defendant’s participation in the care and the plaintiff’s deposition of the defendant as a non-party witness.

The plaintiff’s reason for the late addition, namely the lack of insurance coverage for other defendants, did not constitute a mistake regarding the identity of the proper party. Therefore, the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint.

Talk to an Experienced Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People harmed by medical malpractice can often recover substantial damages, but only if they follow any applicable rules of procedure, which include pursuing claims within the statute of limitations. If you need assistance seeking compensation from a negligent doctor, you should talk to an attorney promptly. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers possess the knowledge and skills needed to assist you in seeking a just outcome. You can contact us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to arrange a meeting.

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