Lavern’s Law was recently signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo after the state legislature passed chapter amendments to the bill on January 30.
Up until this law was passed, victims of medical malpractice only had two and a half years to bring their claim forward from the date of the medical error, regardless of whether or not the patient was aware of the error. This was especially damaging to cancer patients because their symptoms could take longer than two and a half years to present themselves.
Lavern’s Law now provides cancer patients who were harmed by their doctor’s failure to diagnose their condition a new start date for the two and a half year countdown to bring their claim forwards from the date of the error to the date that they reasonably should have known about the error. However, there is still a seven-year limitation for victims of medical malpractice to come forward regardless of the date of discovery.
"No one should have to go through what Lavern Wilkinson and her family experienced and I’m proud to sign this legislation that rights this wrong in the law and provides new protections and peace of mind to New Yorkers seeking care,” Cuomo said.
The original version of Lavern’s Law offered all victims of medical malpractice with the new start date, but the GOP-controlled Senate refused to bring it to the floor without limiting the protections for cases involving malignant tumor and cancer cases. They also refused to include a one-year window to bring back cases previously unprotected by the law, like the case that the bill was named after.
This means that the family of Lavern Wilkinson, the 41-year-old woman who died in 2013 from a curable type of lung cancer after that was misdiagnosed by Kings County Hospital doctors and mother of a 15-year-old developmentally disabled autistic child who needs to be cared for around the clock, cannot take advantage of this new law. The family remains in support of the law, but they are also disappointed that the full version didn’t make it through the New York Legislature.
“I’m disappointed and I’m very upset about it,” said Wilkinson’s aunt, Gloria O’Connor. “That’s not nice.”