Lavern’s Law was recently signed into law by Governor Cuomo on January 31st, 2018, after the recent Senate (53-1) and Assembly (104-8) amendments were passed on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

With Lavern’s Law finally enacted, misdiagnosed cancer victims of medical malpractice now have 2 ½ years from the date of discovery of a missed cancer diagnosis, up to 7 years from the last date of treatment, to file a claim.

It is important to note that this law also revives claims that have become time-barred in the past 10 months (prior to the enactment of Lavern’s Law on January 31, 2018), thereby allowing those claims a 6 month time window to file a claim from the effective date of the law.


What Is Lavern’s Law?

Lavern’s Law was named after Lavern Wilkinson, a 41-year-old woman who died from a form of lung cancer. However, her illness could have been cured had her doctors not misdiagnosed the cancer. Due to medical malpractice statute of limitations laws at that time, Ms. Lavern Wilkinson’s family could not take legal action as the time to commence a lawsuit expired before she learned of her misdiagnosis. She left behind a 15-year-old child with autism who required round-the-clock care.

Lavern’s Law changes when the clock begins to run on New York’s medical malpractice statute of limitations from the time of the misdiagnosis to the time of discovery for cancer patients, only. This gives cancer victims more time to file for a medical malpractice lawsuit if their doctor misdiagnoses their illness. It is an important piece of legislation because oftentimes cancer patients, like Laverne Wilkinson, do not learn of the cancer misdiagnosis until after the statute of limitations has already expired to pursue a claim.


Lavern’s Law and Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in New York State

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be extremely confusing to follow. Each state has a different statute of limitations that affect victims filing for compensation. Now that Lavern’s Law has passed in NYS, patients who have been misdiagnosed and were not able to properly treat their cancer in NYS have the opportunity to file a malpractice claim and the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of discovery of the mistake.

Nonetheless, this was not the original intent of Lavern’s Law. The original piece of legislation intended that all forms of illnesses and the time of discovery of those misdiagnosed diseases should apply, not just for cancer cases. Many of our NYS Legislatures are still currently fighting so that the date of discovery rule for medical malpractice claims applies for non-cancer patients as well. Yet, the passing of Lavern’s Law for cancer patients in NYS is still a win, and had it been passed sooner, it would have given Ms. Lavern Wilkinson’s estate the opportunity to seek compensation to take care of her 15-year-old autistic child after her passing.


How Lavern’s Law Helps You

While you may believe Lavern’s Law does not directly affect you, it may make a difference to you or a family member. No one plans to become sick. We trust our doctors with our lives. If they make a mistake, it is not fair that you should pay the price. Lavern’s Law gives cancer patients or their families in NYS more time to take legal action from the date they discovered, or should have discovered, the medical error. This medical malpractice lawsuit could mean the difference between paying off medical bills or funeral expenses and going into serious debt for a mistake that was not your fault. Doctors make mistakes, and Lavern’s Law, as recently passed in NYS, would give cancer patients and their families more time to recover damages as a result of a medical error.





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