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New York Court Explains COVID-19 Related Tolling of the Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases

The COVID-19 pandemic altered many aspects of everyday life, including the manner in which medical malpractice cases are litigated. Specifically, among other things, it generally increased the length of time parties had to pursue claims against negligent medical professionals. In a recent opinion issued in a medical malpractice case, a New York court clarified that the executive orders issued by the Governor during the pandemic tolled, rather than suspended, the statute of limitations. If you sustained losses because of a doctor’s carelessness, it is wise to confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to evaluate your possible causes of action.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent underwent treatment with the defendants in May 2018. The opinion did not elaborate on the nature of the decedent’s health concerns; regardless, the decedent passed away in September 2018 due to complications associated with her care. The plaintiff commenced a medical malpractice action against the defendant in November 2020 and served an amended complaint naming additional parties that treated the plaintiff as defendants in February 2021.

It is reported that the defendants named in the February 2021 complaint moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims on the grounds that they were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appealed.

COVID-19 Related Tolling of the Statute of Limitations

The court affirmed the trial court ruling on appeal. It explained that pursuant to New York law, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two and a half years. In the subject case, it is undisputed that the plaintiff’s claims accrued in September 2018. In March 2020, however, the Governor issued an executive order that tolled the statute of limitation for filing any legal action for one month.

He issued subsequent orders tolling the statute of limitations throughout the pandemic as well; the final order was in effect until November 2020. The court explained that contrary to the defendant’s assertions, the orders tolled, rather than suspended, the statute of limitations. In other words, they stopped the running of the statute of limitations instead of merely delaying its expiration until the end of the date of the suspension. Thus, the court ruled that the plaintiff’s claims were timely and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Dedicated Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

People harmed by inadequate medical care can often recover damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, but they must act promptly to avoid waiving their right to seek compensation. If you sustained injuries because of a doctor’s negligence, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options for pursuing justice. The dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience helping people protect their interests in civil lawsuits, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly to help you seek a good outcome. You can contact us by using our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.

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