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After much deliberation, cancer patients will have their day in court. Governor Andrew
Cuomo and legislative leaders John J. Flanagan and Carl Heastie have reached an
agreement on a landmark piece of personal injury legislation, and on January
30, 2018, the law passed in both houses of the New York state legislature.
More time for justice
Lavern’s Law, as it’s known, extends the statute of limitations to sue for a missed cancer diagnosis from fifteen months to two years and six months from the date that the patient finds out about the error. Until the law’s passage, the statute of limitations began when the error occurred, and not when it became apparent to the patient.
The legislation’s namesake, 41-year-old Brooklynite Lavern Wilkinson, died in 2013 of a curable form of lung cancer that was misdiagnosed. While it may not have saved her life, the extended statute of limitations would have potentially allowed Ms. Wilkinson to recover damages for personal injury and medical malpractice to care for her surviving family members posthumously.
Lavern’s Law is a critical piece of legislation and a triumph for New York personal injury victims. Fifteen months can expire before a person even knows there has been a misdiagnosis—they may even succumb to illness before having the option to sue for damages, as Ms. Wilkinson did. Under the new law, malpractice victims and their families have adequate time to seek the compensation they deserve.
The push-pull of the legislative progress
Patients’ rights groups, including New Yorkers for Patient & Family Empowerment and the Nurses’ Association, advocated tirelessly for the passage of Lavern’s Law, citing their support for changing the statute of limitation’s beginning to the patient’s discovery of the misdiagnosis, rather than the date the error occurred. However, medical industry groups, like the Radiological Society, claim that the legislation will encourage doctors to leave the state and increase costs of medical malpractice insurance.
The iteration of the bill passed this month is a pared-down version of the original; now, it only applies to cancer misdiagnosis as opposed to a wider variety of ailments. But it is still considered important progress in the ever-evolving cycle of policymaking.
Seek support from a medical malpractice lawyer when you need help with a misdiagnosis claim in New York
If you’ve been misdiagnosed with cancer or another illness, you deserve answers and compensation from those who failed to care for your health. A personal injury attorney can navigate your claim under the new legislation, ensuring the assembly of critical medical records and the management of your case in a timely, organized fashion. Robinson & Yablon, P.C.s team of personal injury attorneys is well equipped to handle all types of medical malpractice cases. With over 100 years of combined experience and multimillion-dollar settlements under our belt, we’re with you every step of the way. If you’ve been misdiagnosed with cancer, keep calm and call our New York office at (212) 725-8566.