BUFFALO, N.Y. – Lawmakers expected the 2015 legislative session to end last week. It didn’t. Now, elected officials are in overtime, hammering out offer sheets in the hopes of striking a deal. One deal remaining on the table could have immediate effects on New York’s health system.
Earlier this month, the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would change the statute of limitations to make a medical malpractice claim. The filing period for a claim would be exteneded to 10 years, according to the bill. A total of 99 Assembly members said ‘yea’ to the bill and sent it to the Senate, where the bill’s fate will be decided.
Currently, patients have a two and a half year window to file a malpractice claim but Buffalo medical malpractice attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say patients don’t always experience the effects of malpractice immediately.
“In some cases, the existing statute prevents some victims from receiving any kind of compensation and that can be taxing on hard working families in Buffalo,” medical malpractice attorney Ross Cellino.
There are more than 32 state senators who have given the amended bill (S 911) their public approval, which would be enough votes to change the Empire State’s medical malpractice law. The only person standing in its way is majority leader, John Flanagan (R – Long Island). Flanagan can send the bill to a floor vote – or lock it up in committee.
Although the medical malpractice reform has bipartisan support in Albany, some Republicans and influential organizations are asking to cap the amount juries can award malpractice victims. Many other states have established maximum awards but New York does not have any restrictions on how much a person can recover in a lawsuit.
There are currently more than 40 states with laws that include a ‘date of discovery’ statute. New York is not one of them.
“Limitations prevent injured people from collecting an amount equal to their pain and suffering, which can sometimes last a lifetime,” Cellino said. “A better way for insurance companies and doctors to keep their costs low is to put safety procedures in place so misdiagnosis and other mistakes don’t happen.”
Birth injuries, like ones leading to cerebral palsy often obtain multi-million dollar settlements because they inflict life-long pain and suffering. Other states have capped these damages to as low as $250,000. Insurance companies argue the caps help keep premium costs low.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has gone on record saying, if the medical malpractice reform passes, he would sign the legislation.