YOU MISS THE DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM
You're still in the hospital. You were in a municipal hospital in the five boroughs of New York; Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, New York City and Staten Island. You walked into the hospital for surgery. After you woke up, you could not walk. The municipal hospital does not have the advanced medical care to treat you. They ship you off to one of the private uptown hospitals for further care. You are starting to recuperate and have begun rehabilitation therapy.
You're worried about how long it is going to take you to walk again. You suspect that a doctor did something wrong during surgery that caused your paralysis. You do not know a lawyer to ask questions and none of your friends have ever needed a lawyer to answer questions about medical negligence. You do not know where to turn.
Instead, you go about your business trying to get better. By the time you are discharged from hospital #2, it has been 6 weeks since you first had your surgery. While at home, a visiting nurse comes to check on you each day. Your family dotes on you. Your boss sends flowers and a get well card with a personal note inside that says, "Come back soon. We need you." The physical therapist that comes to your home says you're making great progress. For some reason, you do not exactly think that walking 10 continuous steps is "great progress." You still wonder how you'll get to work and function like you did before.
At bedtime each night, you wonder how you could have walked into the hospital on your own two feet, and after surgery could no longer walk. It does not make sense. No one at the hospital suggested something was done improperly. The doctors said it was a rare complication. Never in your wildest dreams did you imagine that a doctor or nurse was negligent in caring for you during surgery.
FURTHER MEDICAL TESTS
Your doctor sends you to more doctors to find out the root cause of your paralysis. Each doctor has a different opinion. One doctor suggests strongly that the only way to get this injury is if the surgeon literally cut the nerve controlling the legs. In fact, he claims to have seen this before. By the time you learn this information, it is four months since the original surgery.
You finally get up enough guts to look for a New York medical malpractice lawyer online. You find a lawyer you think is right for you and start asking questions on the phone.
A STARTLING DISCOVERY
One of the first questions the trial lawyer asks is "Which hospital was it that you had your first surgery?" When you tell him it was at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, his response is "You have a problem."
"What's the problem?" you reply.
The lawyer explains to you that Coney Island Hospital is a municipal hospital. So is Jacobi Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, Queens General Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital and others. If you have suffered injury in a municipal hospital, then you are required to file a 'Notice of Claim' against the corporation that technically owns and maintains the hospital. This legal entity is known as 'New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation'.
Generally, an adult has only 90 days from the date of the malpractice to file a Notice of Claim. That date may be slightly extended if you remained in the hospital for a period of time recuperating from your injury that was caused by the doctors or nurses at that hospital. The lawyer tells you that the time to file your Notice of Claim has expired. You are naturally devastated. "Isn't there anything that can be done?" you ask. Actually there is. The lawyer can ask a judge in the Supreme Court of the State of New York [the trial level court] for special permission to file a late claim. There are many hurdles that must be overcome to successfully accomplish this.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of medical neglect at a municipal hospital in New York, you must start looking into your legal rights immediately in order to protect them. Ignorance of the law is unfortunately no excuse to a Court. You must make an effort to get answers to your legal questions earlier rather than later. Only by understanding your legal rights can you make an intelligent decision about what steps you need to take should you seek compensation for your injuries.