Discover Why New York Law Is Absurdly Unfair To Cancer Victims In Kingston, New York

Cancer Misdiagnosis, Laws

It’s always pretty much the same conversation. Here goes: new client, Mr. Jones, calls for a potential medical malpractice case involving a three-year delay in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. It turns out that Mr. Jones had nodules (abnormal masses) on his thyoid three years ago and saw his primary care doctor to have them checked out, but no testing or biopsy of the nodules was done. Three years later, Mr. Jones is told by his doctor that he has metastatic thyroid cancer. Not a pretty picture. Mr. Jones is mad as hell about the failure to test or biopsy the mass three years earlier and now he wants answers.

A really sad phone conversation

During our initial phone call, I explain to Mr. Jones that New York has a statute of limitations that expires two years and six months after the date of the malpractice. When I tell Mr. Jones that the statute of limitations has already expired on his claim and that he has no legal recourse against his doctor, he gets even more upset. Now, Mr. Jones is steaming mad!

The question is always the same: How can I (Mr. Jones) lose my rights to bring a lawsuit when I just discovered yesterday that I have cancer? I explain: “You’re right–this makes absolutely no sense at all–welcome to New York.”

The fact that Mr. Jones was unaware of his thyroid cancer and therefore, could not protect his rights by bringing a lawsuit makes no difference at all. Under New York law, there is no “date of discovery” rule–a rule that extends the statute of limitations for injury victims until they discover that they were injured. It makes no sense that Mr. Jones loses his rights to bring a lawsuit when he was not even aware that he had cancer, but this is New York law.

I have to explain to Mr. Jones that New York has ridiculous rules when it comes to a delay in diagnosing cancer. I urge Mr. Jones to file a complaint with the NYS Department of Health against his physician and I commiserate with him regarding his unfortunate plight. Our phone conversation ends on a sad note when I inform Mr. Jones that there is nothing I can do to help him or his family.

What can be done to change the law

For years the New York State legislature has toyed with new bills to extend the statute of limitations for cancer victims. The “date of discovery” bills would give injury victims a year to bring a lawsuit from the date that they discover their cancer. The time for this bill is long overdue. Malpractice victims should not lose their rights to bring a lawsuit before they are even aware that they have cancer. New York law makes absolutely no sense!

Does anyone care? Most could care less. Of course, why would you care, unless of course you or a family member are stricken with cancer that was missed by a doctor more than 2 1/2 years before the diagnosis was made? Then you care. If you have questions about your case, consult a dedicated attorney right away.