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Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

Why is it Dangerous for an Attorney to Tell You Online How Much Time You Have to File a Lawsuit in New York in an Accident Case, a Medical Malpractice Case or a Wrongful Death Case?

 

A:

Every civil case in New York involving medical malpractice, an accident case or wrongful death case, has specific time limits in which an injured victim or their family has to start a lawsuit.

The problem for injured victims is that there are many different time limits for different types of cases. Even within each category of case, there are different rules and time limits. This can create confusion for someone trying to determine how much time they actually have in order to bring a lawsuit.

In addition, there are many different exceptions which carve out unusual time limits that vary depending upon who you are suing and how old you are.

To make things even more difficult, the legislature in New York changes the time limits every now and then. That means that the time limits that apply today may very well be different tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.

When an attorney tells you online what the time limit is to bring a lawsuit for let's say, a medical malpractice case in New York, they will probably tell you what the general time limit is. However, there are at least five or six different exceptions that may extend or shorten that general time frame. The problem is that at the time they are learning this online, the information may be correct but then again it may be incorrect.

Also, if the law has changed and the time limit is now different, a consumer may incorrectly rely on the information they read about online.

The reality is that time limits for different types of cases change. There is actually no possible way for consumer who is searching for information to definitively know whether information provided in an article, a blog post or a video has changed. There is no way for the consumer to know, unless they are practicing attorney in that field, what the exact time frame is to bring a lawsuit for their particular matter.

Let me give you an example.

In a medical malpractice case here in New York there is a different time limit to sue a private physician compared to bringing a lawsuit against a municipal hospital. The timing is dramatically different. If you were to bring a lawsuit against a state hospital, the time limit is also remarkably different.

If your potential case involves a child who has not yet reached the age of majority, the time within which to do so is again dramatically different than the general time in which to bring a case.

That is why it is extremely dangerous for any attorney in New York to tell you what the 'general' time limit is to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice, accidents or wrongful death.

The better practice is that if an attorney does in fact tell you what the time limit is to bring a case for a particular situation, he should also add a warning; That the information is only valid as of the date it is being written-and they should give that date and then tell you that under no circumstance should you ever rely directly on that information.

Why?

For the simple reason that the time limits change. For the simple reason that you may fall within a particular exception which may shorten or extend the time in which you have to file suit.

The reality is that only an experienced attorney who handles these types of cases can give you an educated answer about whether your matter is timely.

That is why you should not ever rely on the information an attorney provides online in order to determine whether your matter is timely. You must speak to an experienced attorney to tell you definitively whether or not you are within the right timeframe to start your lawsuit.