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As a Cancer Patient, What Does Lavern’s Law Do for You?


Lavern’s Law Lawyers Serving Cancer Patients in New York State

gavel and stethescopeHave you been diagnosed with a form of cancer?  Is it possible that you were previously misdiagnosed about your cancerous condition?  If the answer is yes, our law firm of Hacker Murphy is prepared to assist you, diligently seeking to fight to preserve your rights and to receive the justice that you rightly deserve.

What is the So-called Lavern’s Law?

After the passage in the Assembly and the New York State Senate, the Governor of the State of New York signed into law what’s known as the “Lavern’s Law.”  Essentially, what this new law does is extend the time period for late cancer diagnosis victims to bring a legal action.  In effect, it is a “discovery” rule.

Who is Lavern?

The new “Lavern’s Law” was named after a Bronx resident, one Lavern Wilkinson who happened to pass away in 2013, at the young age of 41.  Wilkerson passed away due to what was believed to be a treatable form of lung cancer.  It was reported in the New York Times that, in 2010, doctors did not catch a curious, two centimeter mass upon her right lung.  (The New York Times wrote many editorials advocating for the passage of new legislation.)

She returned to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn in 2012, due to her experiencing a chronic cough.  The hospital performed an X-ray, and what resulted was frightening.  The X-ray revealed that cancer had now spread throughout her entire body.  When Wilkerson learned of the cancer, and the doctor’s initial error, it was too late to take legal action, because by then the statute of limitation period had run its full course.

What Was the Law before the Lavern’s Law Was Enacted?

Prior to the adoption of the Lavern’s Law, when a doctor missed a diagnosis of cancer, there would be just 2 ½ years to bring a legal action against the doctor for medical malpractice.  Even though 2 ½ years seems like a long period, in actuality it is not.

It happens where a patient doesn’t discover that the doctor missed the cancer diagnosis until months later, or even years later.  Generally, cancer is a slow growing disease.  A misdiagnosis means that the disease will continue to grow without the patient being aware of it.  Sadly, a misdiagnosis can lead to the patient’s death.

A senate bill sponsor of Lavern’s Law was John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse).  DeFrancisco, who was also a long-time trial lawyer, had said that, with the vast majority of cases where a cancerous mass had been found but not disclosed, the statute of limitations had run out prior to the patient being able to bring a lawsuit.

Trial Lawyers Versus Hospitals

Throughout the political process, Lavern’s Law was strongly divided by two distinct sides.  The trial lawyers called the bill “fair play.”  The deep-pocketed medical establishment, such as the hospitals and medical societies, sought to block the measure at every step along the way.  The opposition was predicting that some doctors were likely to leave the state, and that insurance rates would skyrocket.  Further, the medical establishment averred that many of the states had similar laws in place as previously existed in New York, and these states also have placed caps on pain and suffering awards and limitations on the total damages that can be awarded.

According to the New York Daily News, certain groups went even further.  The New York Medical Society expressed that it was “extremely concerned about the ultimate impact to New Yorkers’ access to care” if the new bill was to be signed into law.  Additional hyperbole was cast.  The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York complained that “at the behest of the trial lawyers, lawmakers in Albany have laid the groundwork to turn New York’s medical care crises into a full-blown catastrophe.”

Concerning the legislation, the New York Times reported that “The bill guards the interests of patients who might otherwise be frozen out of seeking just compensation simply because they had no way of knowing that a grave diagnostic error had been made.”

According to the New York Law Journal, the president of the New York Trial Lawyers Association, stated the following concerning Lavern’s Law:  “Lavern’s Law is the result of an extremely committed coalition of advocates, courageous patients and their families and others who came together to address injustice.  We will continue to work across New York to make our state fairer, safer and more equitable for New Yorkers of all walks of life.”

A Change in the Law – Lavern’s Law

There was a dramatic change in the law, upon the adoption of Lavern’s Law.  As of today, the measurement of time is very different.  Now, it is 2 ½ years from the point in time that the patient discovers the missed diagnosis.  This is up to a maximum of 7 years from the date of the patient’s last treatment.  This change in the law makes a huge difference for patients and their families.  Now, otherwise barred claims can still be brought against the doctor who misdiagnosed the patient.

In accordance with the new law, if the misdiagnosis occurred during the period ten months prior to the enactment of the new law, then they have 6 months (after enactment) to bring a lawsuit.

Contact the Law Firm of Hacker Murphy Concerning Lavern’s Law

Being informed that you have cancer can be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have.  As we are all aware, it is critical and extremely important to discover that you indeed have a cancerous disease as soon as possible.  You cannot receive the necessary medical treatment if you have not been properly diagnosed with the disease.

Have you been possibly misdiagnosed about a cancerous disease?  If so, the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Hacker Murphy can assist you.  To discover the ways our law firm can assist you, contact us immediately through our contact form online, or by dialing 518-380-2597 today.