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What is the Statute of Limitations for Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries may qualify as medical malpractice if what has occurred is caused by the negligence of one or more healthcare practitioners who assist with the birth process causes serious harm to the baby. In New York State, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within two years and six months after the injury occurred or was discovered. There are, however, important exceptions and extensions to this statute of limitations for birth injury lawsuits.

According to New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CPLR) section 208, a caveat to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice may allow up to 10 years to file a claim for a birth injury:

“The time within which the action must be commenced shall not be extended by this provision beyond ten years after the cause of action accrues, except, in any action other than for medical, dental or podiatric malpractice, where the person was under a disability due to infancy.”

If you believe that your child suffered serious or permanent harm due to the negligence of a physician, nurse practitioner, midwife, or OB nurse, a New York birth injury lawyer from the law firm of Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP can help you determine how much time you have under the NYS statute of limitations to file a malpractice lawsuit on behalf of your injured child.

We have more than 50 years of experience of representing injured parties in medical malpractice and other injury cases. Our experience and expertise can help you cut through the often-confusing rules and deadlines that NYS applies to birth injury lawsuits.

Call (212) 684-1880 to schedule your free initial consultation. You can also submit an online case evaluation form.

What types of medical malpractice give rise to a birth injury lawsuit?

An infant might suffer a birth injury when a medical practitioner:

  • Improperly delays a delivery, or uses excessive force during an infant’s transit through the birth canal
  • Fails to promptly recognize or diagnose infections or other illnesses
  • Overlooks signs of fetal distress, such as the infant’s reduced heart rate, which can cause the infant to suffer brain damage from insufficient oxygen during the birth process
  • Prescribes incorrect medications or improper dosages of those medications
  • Causes excessive bleeding during Caesarean sections or other surgical procedures during birth.

Details of these and other incidents of medical malpractice will be reflected in the charts that hospitals and birthing centers record and maintain during childbirth. If you have any questions about what happened during the birth of your child, your birth injury attorney can answer those questions for you with the information on those charts.

What exceptions will extend the statute of limitations for filing a birth injury lawsuit in New York?

A birth injury may not be immediately apparent after a baby is born and may not be recognized until the child is diagnosed as having missed critical milestones in the early years of their development. If a birth injury is discovered months or years after birth, the two-and-a-half-year statute of limitations will begin to run on the date once the injury was discovered.

Further, minor children under the age of 18 are not deemed to be competent to file a lawsuit by themselves, and must either have a parent or guardian file the lawsuit on their behalf. Alternately, there may be circumstances under which the statute of limitations will be suspended until the child turns 18, at which time they can file their lawsuit directly.

In every case, New York law requires an injured party or the person filing a birth injury lawsuit on that party’s behalf to procure a certificate of merit from a qualified medical expert within 90 days after a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed. No exceptions or extensions are available for the filing of that certificate.

What should a parent look for as evidence of a birth injury?

Given that the statute of limitations for a birth injury lawsuit will begin to run when the injury is discovered, parents need to be vigilant to detect signs of an injury, which can include:

  • Nerve damage in the infant’s face, shoulders or arms, which can manifest itself in the form of weakness or impaired movement
  • Lack of mobility, balance or coordination as a result of cerebral palsy resulting from insufficient oxygen during delivery
  • Collarbone or skull fractures from forceps or other instruments that a medical practitioner utilizes during childbirth
  • Soft tissue swelling or bruising and broken blood vessels under the infant’s skin
  • Failure to grow or thrive, or to meet regular development milestones for movement or speech.

An infant’s pediatrician and other medical caregivers can be good sources of information on whether a child has experienced a birth injury, but the infant’s parents or guardians should always trust their instincts if they believe that something is amiss. If there are any questions or concerns, the parents or guardians should not hesitate to consult with a knowledgeable New York State birth injury attorney to understand their options and the applicable deadlines for initiating a birth injury lawsuit on their child’s behalf.

Call the New York medical malpractice attorneys at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin

Please contact the New York medical malpractice and birth injury lawyers at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP as soon as possible if you suspect that your child has suffered an injury during your delivery or at any time thereafter.

We offer complimentary assessments of potential birth injury lawsuits, and we can help you determine when the deadline for filing that lawsuit under the State’s statute of limitations. You will incur no fees unless we recover damages for you and your child, in which case we will earn our fees as part of your damages.

Any delay in filing a birth injury lawsuit can result in a loss of your and your child’s opportunity to recover substantial damages from negligent healthcare practitioners and medical centers. Call us before the time runs out to secure the compensation you may deserve.

Our advocates are ready to assist you during this difficult time. Call (212) 684-1880 to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.